The walk will be along a trail covered with wood chips and in some places we will walk in the sand and in the woods. We suggest that people wear hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes. Note that wheeled vehicles are not allowed in the dune area.
Photo: A tour group at Pinhey Sand Dune.
The Pinhey Sand Dune is an unusual micro-environment and a rare feature of Ottawa's ecology.
Following a short introduction giving a brief history of the dunes and its climate, we will show the steps in the restoration of the core site by controlling invading plants, and the reclamation of dune area by the removal of planted pine trees followed by the restoration of the sandy substrate. If we are lucky, we might see one or two special insects of the site.
We will continue on a special trail created to see pink Lady Slippers (still too early as they bloom in late May and early June) and see the type of regenerating forest over the acid sand and the impact of the alien flora.
I have been visiting this site since the early 1980s, At that time, the core section was as clear as you will see it today. The insects living here are able to survive under very difficult conditions as the inland sand dune is quite dry and its surface in late June may reach temperatures of up to 70 C. Insects are the only animals able to withstand such conditions. Many of the species found here do not occur in other sandy places around Ottawa as they require very fine windblown sand (surface of each sand grain rounded). The nearest similar site is at Bristol mines near Quyon, QC. Another site near Constance Bay has become completely forested. What really attracted me here is the discovery of the ghost tiger beetle, which is very well camouflaged against the white sand.
The Pinhey Dune is a very rare habitat requiring our help maintaining it, as otherwise it would soon disappear. You can learn more about the Pinhey Sand Dunes online here. A lovely photo essay on plant and insect species living in the dune can be found here.
This walk is also available in French.
We will walk through the dunes along a visitors' trail.
Parking is available along the street near the corner of Vaan & Pineland.
Henri Goulet is a retired scientist from the Canadian National Collection under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, with a specialty in biodiversity and conservation. He is interested in many facets of the natural world.
In recognition of their achievements towards restoring the unique Pinhey Dune habitat in the Ottawa Greenbelt, Biodiversity Conservancy International has just been awarded the Ottawa Field Naturalists' Club Conservation Award for Non-members for 2012. Congratulations to the volunteers of the Conservancy for well-deserved recognition through this award!