by Lynn Ovenden
Dr. Paul Keddy drove to Ottawa last Tuesday from his home deep in the forest of Lanark County to speak to a large meeting of OFNC members in the Neatby Building. He drove from forest on the marble and gneiss of a Precambrian continent, across the Ordivician limestone of an ancient sea, to the recent sediments of a post-glacial delta and seabed that underlie Ottawa. He then described the wetlands and forests in Lanark County 200 years ago, subsequent human impacts on the landscape, and some special places that remain.
Earth, Water, Fire is the title of his book on Lanark County and code for a 3-part approach to “knowing where we are” – that is, familiarity with the geology, vegetation, and human history of an area. Paul Keddy encouraged all of us, as field-naturalists, to develop this kind of authority on our home turf. Note to self: “Scientific Foundations for Conservation in the Ottawa Valley” is a reading list compiled by Paul Keddy, Dan Brunton, Don Cuddy and Paul Catling for biologists and others interested in natural heritage conservation, who want to know something about the Ottawa Valley.
Dr. Keddy recommended four biologically “special places” to explore in Lanark County:
- The fire barrens of the western side, including the Christie Lake fire barrens; these are areas of little soil, scattered jack pine, oak, lichens, and prairie warblers
- The Hackberry Forest in Carleton Place beside the Mississippi River
- Innisville Wetland, a huge alluvial swamp at the south end of Mississippi Lake, penetrable by canoe or kayak; the Mississippi Valley Field-Naturalists’ club has explored part of it from the boat launch in Ferguson Falls
- The fourth is the Burnt Lands Alvar near Almonte
Paul’s talk, recorded by Cathy Keddy, will soon be available to all on his website – have a look. Also check out accounts of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ forays into Lanark County’s special places. There is much to delight and lead us astray…