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 thanks the ANPC for permission to use information about this area for this page [1].

Clyde Fen Candidate Natural Area looking west. Open sedge fen showing dead tamarack and black spruce killed by fire, with pitcher plants in left foreground; 2021-08-08 (PCotterill).
Clyde Fen Candidate Natural Area looking west. Open sedge fen showing dead tamarack and black spruce killed by fire, with pitcher plants in left foreground; 2021-08-08 (PCotterill).

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

Clyde Fen Candidate Natural Area is located in the Dry Mixedwood Subregion of the Boreal Forest Natural Region. It is composed of three quarter-sections of greater fen area totaling an area of 119 ha. 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 ANPC members have been the Volunteer Stewards 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 Count of Plant Species in Flower, 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.). With its pitcher plant populations, Clyde Fen rivals other peatlands in the region for the most insectivorous plant species. It is also home to two rare orchid species: bog adder’s mouth (Malaxis paludosa) and the even rarer Loesels’s twayblade (Liparis loeselii). A rare member of the sedge family, flat-stemmed spikerush (Eleocharis compressa) is present. All three rare species are 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 forest. Bonaparte’s Gulls (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) regularly nest around a small lake approximately 1.5 km west of the natural area. Common nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) have bred in the NA (P. Cotterill, pers. obs.).

FLORA IN THE FEN. The wettest parts of Clyde Fen support a weakly patterned, treeless fen with alternating higher, drier strings of bog 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 /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 forest can be found. There are also two sand ridges in the area with an open jack pine/northern rice grass community.

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 sections SW 15 and NE 16, but SW 27 was spared. The areas burned changed from a treed to a shrub 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 [2]. Despite concerns that the road would seriously alter 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.

INTEREST FOR CONSERVATION AND EDUCATION. Many nature 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, common tansy and cicer milk-vetch. Efforts are under way 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-Status Alberta Native Plant Council
Recreation ActivitiesBotanizing
Operated By
Notes and Comments
Statistics and Details for Clyde Fen


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. County pays compensation for wetland disturbance, (Westlock) Town And Country Today Mar 22, 2011 (accessed 2021-12-30).

Further Reading

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