Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
June 13, 2002
Written by Sarah Coulber
Almonte Home to Precious and Rare Ecosystem
The sun shone for an enthusiastic group who explored the Burnt Lands Alvar, (Almonte area) with Shaun Thompson of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). Organized by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), it was a welcomed opportunity to learn about this rare ecosystem. All alvars are unique and exist only in Sweden and the Great Lakes Basin which adds significance to our alvar!
Alvars occur only on limestone bedrock covered with little or no soil. Shaun showed us areas where the frost heaved the soil and rock and explained that the shallow depth of soil partly contributes to the stress of plants and animals that live there, making survival in the cold winters and hot summers difficult. Some of the native inhabitants that have adapted to alvars (some of which were spotted) include the stunning blue-eyed grass, yellow lady slipper orchids, smooth green snakes and red-bellied snakes.
This valuable land has recently been transferred from the Department of National Defense to the MNR, Ontario Parks and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. A management plan will be created in the future to decide how to best protect and utilize this land.
Stay tuned for upcoming activities with the MVFN such as canoe outings and the fall program listing.