Stone Road Alvar

Shale beach at the Stone Road Alvar on Pelee Island

With this Conservation Area, getting there is half the fun since it is located a boat ride away on Pelee Island. The alvar is an area of thin topsoil over limestone bedrock, a very unique ecosystem and one of the region’s most biologically diverse, supporting some 55 native alvar plants. Stone Road Alvar is prime habitat for the endangered Blue Racer snake. As well, five rare butterflies occur quite commonly at Stone Road – the spectacular Giant Swallowtail, the Tawny Emperor, Acadian hairstreak, Hackberry Butterfly, and Sachem Skipper. Carolinian bird species such as the Yellow-breasted Chat and the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher like the property’s dense thickets.

In 1987, the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) acquired a 36.4 hectare parcel of land on the east side of Stone Road, directly across from the Federation of Ontario Naturalists’ reserve. A further acquisition made by the ERCA in 1989 extended their property to include the Mill Point shoreline. Management efforts include periodic prescribed burns to prevent the natural succession of shrubs from closing in on the savannah communities.

There is no formal trail but the area is yours to explore and there is much to see. From late July to early September, all the open areas are masterfully coloured with the yellow of gray-headed coneflower, the purple of nodding wild onion and clusters of the white of whorled milkweed. Chinquapin oaks are scattered throughout the unique alvar habitat and can often be well over 100 years old. In the open savannahs, visitors can find the provincially rare Hop Tree as well as Blue Ash. Of special note is the local abundance of Downy Wood Mint, a plant that in Canada is confined to Pelee Island.