CARP – Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) says the Carp Hills are starting to feel some of the stress created by the 11-month ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

With provincial lockdown orders ongoing and all levels of government imploring people to remain in their family home bubbles, local outings have become increasingly common and the Carp Hills are starting to feel the effect of that.

“Like many near-urban natural spaces, DUC’s conservation property in the Carp Hills is feeling some pandemic stress,” the environmental conservation organization released in a statement Sunday (Feb. 7). Can you relate? Traffic is up on the property these days and we’re happy to have respectful visitors, but we have to ensure these visits don’t impact the natural features and values of the landscape.”

In 2018, DUC acquired the roughly 440-acre property through an arrangement with the Friends of the Carp Hills and the City of Ottawa. The Carp Hills are among the largest undeveloped natural spaces within the City of Ottawa. The Hills cover nearly 10,000 acres (4,047 hectares) of rocky barrens, forests and shallow wetlands.

They’re home to hundreds of species of wildlife, including rare and at-risk plants and animals.

“But, as the hills become more popular with nature seekers and housing developments balloon around their perimeter, their sensitive habitat is at risk,” DUC said.

The DUC requests you follow some simple rules while visiting the Carp Hills that will ensure the natural environment is safe for users for years to come.

  • Protect the rare habitat by staying on the trail
  • Keep dogs on a leash
  • No bicycles or motorized vehicles
  • Do not camp or light campfires
  • Clean boots at the trailhead to remove invasive plants and seeds

“Visitors may encounter volunteers from the Friends of the Carp Hills, a group of local naturalists who are helping manage the trail and any associated impacts,” DUC said.

An existing snowmobile trail traverses the property as part of the larger Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs trail system.

“DUC has an agreement with the West Carleton Snowmobile Trails Association to allow continued use for winter access that is not destructive to the property’s natural features,” DUC said. “The trail is closed in all other seasons and is not open to ATVs or other use.”

DUC still wants to see people outside, getting fresh air and a mental break, while using the Carp Hills respectfully.

“We hope you’re getting outside this weekend and we thank you for taking the time to read this notice,” DUC said. “If you have questions, please contact the Ontario offices: 1 705-721-4444.”

For more on DUC’s involvement with the Carp Hills, click here.