The Cascumpec Sandhills (Photo by Mike Dembeck)
In 2017, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) protected 150 acres (60 hectares) of exceptional habitat on the Cascumpec Sandhills, an island near Alberton, PEI. NCC’s Cascumpec Sandhills property, and its neighbouring Conway Sandhills property, are part of a system of island barrier beaches on the northwest shore of PEI. The Cascumpec Sandhills are characterized by a sand dune and marram grass ecosystem that separates Cascumpec Bay and Alberton Harbour from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The grasses on Cascumpec Sandhills were once a source of feed for the livestock of early residents during poor haying years, and the island later supported a thriving lobster canning industry. For several decades it has largely been untouched by people and has returned to its natural state: a vital habitat for rare plants and many species of shorebirds. Located in an internationally recognized Important Bird Area (IBA), the Cascumpec Sandhills are a critical nesting site for endangered piping plover. Other notable shorebird species in the area include yellowlegs, semipalmated plover, semipalmated sandpiper, sanderling, ruddy turnstone and black-bellied plover.
The Cascumpec Sandhills property was donated to NCC by Ian Oulton. This conservation project was supported through funding from the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program and Ecogift Program. The American Friends of Nature Conservancy of Canada also contributed generously to this project. This piece of coastal wilderness is a natural treasure in Canada’s most densely-populated province.