City institutes conservation, recreation plan for Carp Barrens

CARP – For three years the Friends of the Carp Hills (FCH) have been collaborating with the City of Ottawa to develop conservation measures for the Carp Barrens, an ecologically significant area of open rock barrens in the Carp Hills centred around Thomas A. Dolan Parkway.  

The FCH conducted an ecological impact study in 2019 providing evidence for recommendations to protect the fragile Canadian Shield landscape.

“As a result the city has clarified its intent for conservation and recreation in the newly declared Carp Hills Municipal Nature Reserve, which covers all city-owned land in the Carp Hills,” the FCH released in a statement last week (Nov. 10). “It includes special protection provisions for the Carp Barrens, authorizes a new trail for managed public use, and closes an unauthorized trail to return the site to its natural state.”

The Carp Barrens trail is a three-kilometre loop managed by the FCH Hills under an agreement with the City of Ottawa. FCH have partnered with the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) to maintain the trail. Located on the south side of Thomas A. Dolan Parkway, the trail is for pedestrian and mountain bike use only. Motorized vehicles are not permitted. Owing to the sensitive nature of the terrain and wildlife, dogs are also not allowed. Parking is extremely limited.

“Evidence-based recommendations from the 2019 Carp Barrens Trail Study have guided the City of Ottawa’s conservation measures for the Carp Barrens,” the FCH said. “This includes seasonal closure each year to protect Species at Risk turtles and birds that nest on ground there.”

Work on the Carp Barrens Trail will be conducted in late 2020 and 2021 to close off-side trails; add trailhead signs; and better delineate the existing trail loop. 

“Please respect the City of Ottawa’s Nature Reserve – No Entry signs,” the FCH said.

The City of Ottawa has published information about the Carp Hills Municipal Nature Reserve, which applies to all city-owned land in the Carp Hills. It describes what activities the city permits on its three authorized trails including the Crazy Horse Trail, Carp Barrens Trail and Hidden Lake Park Pathway.  It describes special protection measures for the Carp Barrens Trail, which includes seasonal closure.

“The Friends of the Carp Hills and the City of Ottawa have worked to create a balance between recreational activities and conservation, allowing public access while preserving the fragile ecology of the Carp Barrens,” the FCH said. “We would like to recognize Coun. Eli El-Chantiry for his significant support throughout this process. Thank you. The Carp Barrens is beautiful and people are loving it to death.  These recommendations from the Carp Barrens Trail Study, implemented by the City of Ottawa, will help keep the area special for future generations. It is a small thing to ask people to respect these conservations measures and minimize their impact when enjoying its beauty.”

Recommendations include:

  • Close an unauthorized trail on the northern half of the Barrens.
  • Authorize the Carp Barrens Trail on the southern half of the Barrens for pedestrian and mountain bike use only.
  • Reduce the footprint of the Carp Barrens Trail to a single loop with no side trails.
  • Close the trail to all human use from the Tuesday after Victoria Day weekend in May to Aug. 15  to allow ground nesting birds and turtles to reproduce.
  • Better delineate the trail to keep people on the trail and stop wandering off-trail.
  • Prohibit dogs.
  • Limit parking for safety reasons.

In addition, the Friends of the Carp Hills will establish a monitoring plan and program to evaluate the ongoing impact of human use.