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Prairie Smoke Alvar

Praire Smoke Alvar
Prairie Smoke lichens

Karen Popp, a long-time resident of Dalrymple, had always felt that her ranch was special, a feeling that was confirmed by field researchers working for the Conservancy in the mid-1990s. Beyond the hay fields along the road, an access trail leads through bands of hardwood and conifer forests to emerge on good-quality grassland alvar with a rich mix of specialized plants and wildlife.

In 2005, Karen approached the Couchiching Conservancy and negotiated a part-donation part-purchase agreement for the 274 hectare property, which became known as Prairie Smoke. The Nature Conservancy of Canada holds title to this property, and it is managed by a partnership with the Couchiching Conservancy and the Carden Field Naturalists.

Unique features of this property

  • grassland, shrubland and pavement alvar communities on this property support a rich array of typical alvar species such as Bluets, Scarlet Painted-cup, Shrubby Cinquefoil, and Prairie Smoke
  • several bands of wetland cross the property, providing habitat for species at risk such as Blanding’s Turtles, which are easily identified by their bright yellow throat and domed shell
  • the conifer forest of White Spruce and other species that occurs along the edge of the alvar is rich in mosses and lichens on the shallow limestone bedrock
  • a low limestone scarp separates the conifer and deciduous forests, with many crevices and moss-covered rocks; an occurrence of Walking Fern has been located here, one of only two known on the Carden Plain
  • hay fields near the entrance of the property are being managed to support grassland breeding birds such as Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks, and also provide grazing for several dozen White-tailed Deer in early spring

Best time to visit: year-round

Location

From Orillia, follow Hwy 12 east, Simcoe Road 46 and City of Kawartha Lakes Road 6 to Lake Dalrymple. About 0.5 km past the Narrows bridge turn left onto Lake Dalrymple Road; watch for the Prairie Smoke sign about 0.5 km along the right.

Experience the Carden Alvar on Foot – Walking Trails for Public Use. Learn more about opportunities for Birders, Hikers & Naturalists.

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