Clyde Fen Natural Area

Clyde Fen was established as a Candidate Natural Area in 1990 and the Alberta Native Plant Council (ANPC) has been the Volunteer Steward of the site since 1992. SAPAA would like to thank ANPC for permission to use information about this area for this page [1].

Pale yellow seed capsules of Loesel's twayblade - Clyde Fen Natural Area, 2011 - (K. Andersen)
Pale yellow seed capsules of Loesel’s twayblade – Clyde Fen Natural Area, 2011 – (K. Andersen)

Map of the Area

Any maps and map views are for general information only. Do not rely on them for navigation or to determine legal boundaries.

Other Information (adapted from ANPC)

Clyde Fen Candidate Natural Area is located in the Dry Mixedwood Boreal Forest Natural Region. It is composed of three quarter-sections of greater fen area totaling an area of 119 ha (293 acres). Much of the surrounding land has been cleared for agriculture and a large commercial sand and gravel pit is in operation east of the natural area.

HISTORY and INVENTORIES. Clyde Fen was established as a Candidate Natural Area in 1990 and the Alberta Native Plant Council (ANPC) has been the Volunteer Steward of the site since 1992. Annual inspections of the area are made in conjunction with ANPC field trips, particularly on the last weekend in May as part of Nature Alberta’s May Plant Species Count, which has been conducted most years at Clyde Fen since 1995.

SIGNIFICANT PLANTS. Clyde Fen is important for a number of reasons. It supports the most southerly recorded population of pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) in Alberta (less than 100 km from Edmonton). Other insectivorous plants found in the area include two species of sundew (Drosera spp.) and three species of bladderwort (Utricularia spp.).

Clyde Fen rivals other notable peatlands in the region for the most insectivorous plants. The two rare orchids bog adder’s mouth (Malaxis paludosa) and Loesels’s twayblade (Liparis loeselii) occur in the area along with flattened spike rush (Eleocharis compressa). All three are species tracked by the Alberta Conservation Information Management System (ACIMS).

LOCAL BIRDS. The Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris), an uncommon bird in Alberta, has been recorded breeding in the area. Palm Warblers (Setophaga palmarum) have bred here in the black spruce–tamarack (Picea marianaLarix laricina) forest. Bonaparte’s Gulls (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) regularly nest around a small lake approximately 1.5 km west of the natural area.

[Do we adopt the ENC policy of us capitals for the names of animals (birds)? I am in favour of keeping lower case for plant common names, as per professional usage – P?]

FLORA IN THE FEN. The wettest parts of Clyde Fen support a weakly patterned, treeless fen with alternating higher, drier strings of dwarf birch (Betula pumila), sedges (Carex spp.) and golden moss (Tomentypnum nitens), and lower, wetter flarks of sedges and brown mosses. The edges of the fen are dominated by tamarack, dwarf birch, buck-bean (Menyanthes trifoliata) and brown mosses. This grades into a black spruce –Labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum)–golden moss/feathermoss forest as the soil moisture level drops. At higher and drier elevations a few small areas of white spruce–aspen /balsam poplar (Picea glaucaPopulus tremuloides/P. balsamifera) forest can be found. There are also two sand ridges in the area with an open jack pine–northern rice grass (Pinus banksianaPiptatheropsis pungens) forest.

FIRE AND RECOVERY. A serious fire in 2001 (one of the driest years on record in the area) burned the majority of the trees in SW 15 and NE 16, but SW 27 was spared. The areas burned were changed from a treed form to a shrubby form of fen. In all except the wettest areas where tree seedling establishment has been minimal, the burned fen area is transitioning back to its treed form.

ROADS AND INVASIONS. Nine years after the fire in 2001, an access road to the gravel pit was constructed through the fen [3]. Despite concerns that the road would have dire consequences on the drainage pattern of the fen, its effects on hydrology have so far been minimal. Its main effects have been that it is unsightly, creates an edge for the introduction of numerous invasive and undesirable plant species, and accumulates litter.

SAPAA, ANPC and OTHERS. Many groups are interested in the protection of Clyde Fen because of its species richness, diversity of habitats, presence of rare species, educational potential and proximity to a large urban area. A current concern is the invasion of non-native species into the area, particularly common caragana (Caragana arborescens), common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and cicer milk-vetch (Astragalus cicer). Efforts are underway to limit the extent of these species.

Site Statistics

Site NameClyde Fen
Site TypeNatural Area
SubtypeProtective Notation (PNT)
Natural Region(s)Dry Mixedwood
O.C. No. (Land Ref. Manual)N/A
PASite ID (Map Ref #)559
Site # (Parks Website)N/A
Total Area118.68 ha. (293.26 ac.)
Steward-Status4. ANPC
Recreation Activities
Operated By
Notes and Comments
Statistics and Details for Clyde Fen

References, Further Reading and Links

The following links are provided as a courtesy but are not verified or endorsed by SAPAA. Clicking on the link will cause you to leave the SAPAA website.

  1. ANPC – Clyde Fen Candidate Natural Area (accessed 2021-12-29)
  2. Government of Alberta – pasites.pdf ( (accessed 2021-12-30)
  3. County pays compensation for wetland disturbance, (Westlock) Town And Country Today Mar 22, 2011 (accessed 2021-12-30).

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