CLI LAND CAPABILITY OF THE PEACE RIVER MAP SHEET AREA, 84 C

 

The Canada Land Inventory provides one of the most comprehensive digital map source for resource planning and management in Canada. The area covered by the CLI is indicated in the index map. For each of the map sheets areas land capability is mapped at 1:250'000 scale and usually at a 1:50'000 scale. This is an example for Mapsheet 84 c, Peace River. The index map on the right shows the areas mapped for land capability under the CLI. The left image shows an example of a number of overlays displayed on Google Earth.

Each of the 1.250'000 scale maps has an extensive description of the landscape ecosystem and capability perspectives. Below is an example for the Peace River map area.



Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION
CLIMATE
SETTLEMENT AND LAND USE
PHYSIOGRAPHY
SOIL CLASSIFICATION FOR AGRICULTURE
FOREST ECOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIPS
WATERFOWL CLASSIFICATION AND ECOLOGY
UNGULATE ECOLOGY AND CLASSIFICATION
RECREATION CAPABILITY


INTRODUCTION

The area covered by the Peace River map sheet is approximately 250 miles northwest of Edmonton and is part of the Interior Plains physiographic region. It has parkland vegetation in the south and vegetation of the Boreal Forest Region in the northwest. The generally level terrain is broken by two features: the deeply incised valleys of the Peace and Smoky rivers, and the eastern ex- tremity of the Whitemud Hills. The Peace River flows northwards through the center of the area, and is the dominant physical feature. The slumping and the variety of vegetation along its banks provide a varied landscape.

The part of the area east of the Peace River is level to undulating, with occasional gently rolling ridges. The land is poorly drained and there are many swamps, lakes, and streams. The main streams, the Cadotte, Little Cadotte, North Heart, and Otter rivers, and Ochre, Jackpine, and Benjamin creeks, are part of the Peace River drainage system. The dominantly aspen cover is broken by sites of spruce and jack pine with little underbrush. From Marten River southeast to Lubicon Lake are expanses of open grassland dotted with groves of trembling aspen.

The part of the area west of the Peace River is mainly aspen parkland, much of which has been modified by agriculture. Moss bogs are common in the west-central part, and a mixed aspen-spruce forest covers the Whitemud Hills. Lakes are shallow and there are many ponds. The Whitemud and Notikewin rivers and Buchanan Creek, the main streams, are also part of the Peace River drainage system.

 

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CLIMATE

The area has a temperate climate characterized by warm summers and cold winters. The mean July temperature is 620 F and the mean January temperature is 30 F. Annual precipitation ranges from 13 to 18 inches of which about 6 to a inches falls as rain during the growing season. Annual snowfall is about 50 to 60 inches.

The length of the host-free period is variable. In general grain crop production may be considered possible in at least four years out of five in the cultivated parts. Alberta Wheat Pool records show a much lower percentage of the higher grades of wheat compared with more southerly regions of the province.

The number of degree-days above 420F during the growing saason varies from 1800 to 2100 in the cultivated area. The maximum elevations at which grain crop production appears to be possible are 2000 feet in the north and 2300 feet in the south. Much of the eastem and westem parts of the area are above these critical elevations.

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SETTLEMENT AND LAND USE

The first Europeans to enter the area were fur traders, who used the Peace River as a main transportation route. One of the early fur traders in the area, Henry Fuller Davis, became well known throughout the Peace Rivercountry as Twelve Foot Davis. Today, a menu ment marks the location of h is g rave.

Agricultural settlement began in the 1880s at Shaftesbury Settlement near the present town of Peace River. Agriculture is the dominant land use, especially inthe western half of the area. In the eastern half, there are several Indian and Metis communities, such as those at Simon Lakes, Haig Lake, Marten River, and L'Hirondelle. The Mackenzie Highway and the Great Slave Lake Railway traverse the western part.

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PHYSIOGRAPHY

The area is in the Alberta Plateau and Peace River Lowland divisions of the Interior Plains Physiographic Region. The overall relief is characterized by extensive lowlands in the central part of the area bordered by uplands to the west and east. Elevations above sea level range from about 1600 feet in the northern part of the lowlands to 2700 feet in the westem uplands.

The area is underlain by Upper and Lower Cretaceous sedimentary rocks mainly shales of the Shaftesbury formation and sandstones of the Dunvegan and Peace River formations. It was glaciated during the Pleistocene epoch by the continental ice advance from the north and northeast. Present surficial deposits originated from the materials transported by the glacier, or deposited in former glacial lakes.

On the basis of topography and landscape pattern, the area may be subdivided into four local physiographic units: the Peace River Lowland, Otter Lakes Upland, Utikuma Lake Upland, and Clear Hills Upland.

The Peace River Lowland is located in the central part of the area and is dissected by the Peace River. This former lake basin slopes gently northward from about 1900 feet in the south to 1600 feet in the north. Elevation also increases westward and eastward toward the uplands. The Otter Lakes Upland in the northeast is a southern extension of the Buffalo Head Hills. It has a rugged morainic topography with steep slopes and isolated hills. Elevations above sea level range from 1900 feet to 2600 feet. The Utikuma Lake Upland in the southeast, ranges from 1900 to 2700 feet. The Clear Hills Upland in the west ranges from 1900 to 2700.

The area is a part of the Peace River drainage system. The main tributaries in the west are the Whitemud and Notikewin rivers and in the east, the Smoky, Heart, Cadotte, Otter, Marten, and Little Cadotte rivers and Jackpine Creek. A small region in the eastern part of the area drains into the Peace River by way of the Loon and Wabasca rivers. About 1 percent of the area is occupied by lakes of various sizes. The largest of these are Cardinal, Haig, Otter, Cadotte, Little Buffalo, and Lubicon lakes.

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SOIL CLASSIFICATION FOR AGRICULTURE

The parent materials of the soils in this area in ordec of dominance are: lacustrotill, lacustrine, till, glaciofluvial, alluvial or aeolian, and residual deposits. The residual deposits are mainly of the Kaskapau and Dunvegan formations of Late Cretaceous Migm.

The percentages given for the following orders great groups and subgroups represent the percent of the area in which these soils are dominant in the soil associations.

Gray Luvisols occupy about 55 percent of the area, of which 35 percent are Solodic Gray Luvisols 16 peccant are Orthic Gray Luvisols and the remainder are Dark Gray Luvisols. Dark Gray Luvisols have been rated Class 2 and the rest have been rated Class 4 or 5 depending on the climate or topography.

About 25 percent of the area is covered by Organic soils, threequarters of which occur in the east. Chemozemic soils occupy about 7 percent of the area of which 6 percent are Solodic Dark Gray and the remainder are Orthic Black Eluviated Blade and Gleyed Dark Gray. These represent the best soils in the area and have been rated Class 2 or 3, depending on degree of wetness.

Gleysolic soils are dominant over about 4 percent of the area. mese are mainly Orthic numic Gleysols and Low numic Eluviated Gleysols with limited tracts of Rego Humic Gleysols Carbonated Rego Humic Gleysols, and Saline Rego Humic Gleysols. The acreage of Gleysolic soils that is not dominant in the soil association has not been estimated. The Saline Rego Humic Gleysols have been rated Class 3, 4, or 5 depending on degree of wetness or climate.

Solonetzic soils occupy about 2 percent of the arse and consist of Black Solonetz, Black Solod$ and Gray Solods. Black Solods have been rated Class 2, Black Solonetz Class 3, and Gray Solods have been rated Class 3 or4 depending on climate.

The remaining 7 percent of the area consists of rough broken land, undifferentiated soils and lakes. Soil capability classification of the inaccessible pad of the area has been intacpreted from aerial photographs and broad reconnaissance soil surveys. The classification of these parts should therelore be considered as preliminary soil capability information.

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FOREST ECOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIPS

The area is within the Boreal Forest Region. Most of the area is in the Mixedwood and a small regions the south between the Peace and Smoky rivers is in the Aspen Grove section.

The main tree species are white spruce, black spruce, jack pine, and lodgepole pine, balsam fir, tamarack trembling aspen, black poplar, and white birch. The natural distribution of forest stands and species composition is closely related to physiographic features, local climate, drainage, and texture of surficial deposits.

White spruce, the most important commercial species occurs in pure or mixed stands on alluvial and lake sediments, moist glacial till deposits till plains, and northfacing slopes. Black spruce occupies organic depressions or poorly drained lowland regions, often mixed with tamarack. Black spruce also grows in upland locations adjacent to depressions, where it is mixed with white spruce, jack pine, lodgepole pine, and poplar. Jack pine was used as the indicator species east of the Peace River, and lodgepole pine west of the Peace River.

Pine stands predominate on well-drained till ridges, south-facing slopes, coarse textured glaciofluvial materials, and excessively drained sandy deposits. As a result, of repeated forest fires, pine is also found mixed with spruce and apsen on upper jslopes in the uplands and on sandy terraces along the floodplains of the main rivers. Settlement is confined primarily to the central and westem parts of the area. About 50 percent of the area has been cleared of forest cover and is presently supporting intensive farming.

The area has a continental climate, characterized by short, warm summers and long, cold winters. Meteorological data for Peace River, Peace River Crossing, Deadwood, and Manning indicate that annual precipitation averages 13 to 15 inches in the southwest (Peace River Crossing and Peace River) and 19 inches in the northwest (Deadwood), about half of which occurs during the spring and summer. June and July are the wettest months, followed by May and August. The mean annual temperature is 370 F. Mean temperatures for January and February, the coldest months, are O F and 80F, and for July, the warmest month, 64 F. In general, the average annual frost-free period is about 95 days. In the western and northeastern uplands where precipitation is slightly higher and average temperature lower, it is about 80 days.

Because of climatic limitations, the highest capability for forestry in the area is Class 3, which occurs only locally, mainly as part of a complex rating on alluvial silts and moist lacustrine deposits. Finetextured clay silty clay soils developed from glacial lake sediments occupy expanses in the central part of the area, east and west of the Peace River. The productive capacity of these soils is usually limited by slow drainage and a compacted Bt horizon 18 to 24 inches below the surface. Moist clay deposits are commonly rated Class 4, and sites where drainage is less favorable are rated Classes 5, 6 and 7.

The Gray Luvisols developed from glacial till deposits in the western and eastern parts of the area are medium to fine textured, and their productive capaicty where drainage is favorable is Class 4. They are rated Classes 5 and 6 where limitations of wetness or dryness lower the capacity for forest growth. The medium to finetextured soils developed from alluvial deposits occur mainly along the floodplains of the Peace River and its tributaries. The most common limiting factors are a high water table, retarded drainage, and periodic inundation. Favorable sites on alluvial soils are rated Classes 3 and 4. Wetter sites are rated Classes 5, 6, and 7.

Organic soils are common throughout the area. Their productive capacity is low because of poor drainage and a high water table, and they are mainly rated Classes 6 and 7. Most eroded slopes along the Peace and Smoky rivers are rated a complex of Classes 5 and 7 as a result of moisture deficiency and exposure. Some lower slopes bordering the floodplain are rated Class 4.

Capability classification by P. Mehony, Spartan Aero Ltd. under the direction of P. Gimberzevsky, Spartan Aero Ltd, in cooperation with the Alberta Forest Service.

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WATERFOWL CLASSIFICATION AND ECOLOGY

A variety of wetland habitats occur throughou the area, especially in the eastern part. Several of the lakes and sloughs are quite marshy with shallow water, soft bottoms, and abundant aquatic vegetation. Common emergent vegetation on the marsh fringe may include cattail (Typha latifolia), bulrushes (Scirpus spp.), rushes (Juncus spp ), sedges (Carer spp.), and coarse grasses, such as reed grass (Calamagrostis inexpansa). Plants such as pondweeds (Potamogeton spp), northern water-milfoil (Myriophyllum exalbescens), duckweeds (Lemna spp.), common coontail (Ceratophyllum demersuin), common bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris), smartweeds (Polygonunr spp.), and yellow water lily (Nuphar variegatum) are found in these waters. Many of the shallow water bodies become stagnant during the summer.

Many of the lakes, sloughs, and ponds have little aquatic vegetation and have an open appearance. Some of these water bodies are very deep, whereas others are quite shallow. Especially around the deeper lakes, the open uplands surrounding the water are often restricted by the forest cover that crowds the shoreline. On the level and undulating land, drainage is often very poor and depressions filled with organic bogs or muskegs occur. Vegetation common in these parts of the area includes black spruce, tamarack (Larix laricina), willows, dwarf birch (Betula glandulosa), sedges, mosses (Sphagnum spp ), Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), and cranberries (Yeccinium sop.). If the bog is in an earlystage of development and open water persists. Aquatic vegetation is generally sparse and consists mainly of sedge and yellow water lily.

Where the habitat is suitable for nesting, many varieties of ducks are found. Some of the more common surface-feeding ducks include the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), American Widgeon (Mareca americana), Gadwall (Anas strepera), Shoveler (Spatula clypeata), Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), and Pintail (Anas acuta). Several of the diving ducks, such as the Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis), Redhead (Aythya americana), Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), and Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) are also found. The American Coot (Fulica americana) is common throughout the area and the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser), the Grebe (Podiceps spp.), and the Common Loon (Gavia immer) are present in smaller numbers.

Lakes and marshes that have emergent fringes of cattails, bulrushes, and sedges and have uplands of grasses, sedges, and willows provide excellent nesting and protective cover for waterfowl. The seeds and roots of some of the aquatic plants and the invertebrate animal life of the pond provide the main food supply for the young and adult birds in the summer. Lands con~taining water bodies that have abundant growths of aquatic vegetation and that are moderately shallow are rated as Classes 1,2, and 3. A limited number of Class 1, 2, and 3 lands are found in the eastern part of the area and in the agricultural western part. The topography is mainly undulating to gently rolling and the water bodies are often shallow. Lack of permanent water and low soil and water fertility are the most common limitations.

Class 4 and 5 lands occur throughout the area. The waterfowl habitat in these lands is often limited by adverse topography, which results in the formation of few water bodies. Some Class 4 and 5 lands have several water bodies, but low soil and water ferti lity restricts the growth of desirable aquatic plants. The lack of nesting cover and aquatic food sources reduces the capability for waterfowl.

Large units of Class 6 lands dominate the area. Most of this land is level or gently undulati ng and adverse topog raphy is the most important I i mitation. Large areas of muskeg and a few small, infertile ponds are often found. During spring and fall migration, the number of waterfowl using the larger lakes greatly increases. Cardinal Lake is the most important migration stop in the area for ducks and geese, but the Peace River is also used by migrating geese. Waterfowl hunting occurs only in the western part of the area, where access to the lakes and sloughs is best and field shooting is available. The local residents do most of the waterfowl hunting in this area of Alberta and the overall hu nting pressure is light.

Capability classification by Craig D. Schick, Canadian Wildlife Service.

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UNGULATE ECOLOGY AND CLASSIFICATION

Soils vegetative cover, and soil drainage pattems are closely correlated. The organic soils are covered by various types of muskeg vegetation, depending on soil moisture, exposure, elevation, and other factors. Dense black spruce (Picea mariana), muskegs and wet meadows occupy the poorest sites. Open lichen Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum) types occupy the higher, more exposed, drier sites. Sites with less organic accumulation and better drainage have a higher general productivity, and because of the interspersion of more valuable timber and browse species, a higher capability for big game production. latches (Lerir spp.), willow (flax spp.), and other deciduous and coniferous species tend to be interspersed more frequently as the soil and drainage improve.

The dominant native vegetation Of the area consists of a mixed tree covet interspersed with grasslands shrublands and wet meadows. Trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) is predominant and balsam poplar (Populus belsamifera), white spruce (Picea glauca), pines (Pinus spp.), birches (Betula spp.), willows black spruce, tamarack (Lerir lericine), and alders (Alnus spp.) are also present. Shrubs include roses (Rose spp.), goosebarries (Ribes spp.), raspberries (Rubus spp.), cranberries (Vibernum spp.), red chokecherry (Prunus virginiena), saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia), boneberry (Actase rubre), silverberry (Eleeegnus commutate), western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidsntalis), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), and buffaloberry (Shepherdia spp.). Labrador tea, sedges (Carer spp.), rushes (Juncus spp.), coarse grasses and mosses occur in low-lying, poorly drained parts of the area Mosses and lichens are important as understory in mature forest stands.

Plants on the Peace River prairie include wheat grasses (Agropyron spp), sedges (Schizachne purpurescens), kome grasses (Bromus spp., pine grasses (Calamegrostis spp.), and speargrasses (Stipe spp.).

Moose (Alces alces) is the main ungulate species in the area, especially in or near river valleys. Other species include mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), which have decreased in number since settlement of the area, whit~tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), which have increased since settlement and elk (Cervus canadensis), which are found in limited numbers. Elk have probably not regained their presettlement populations.

Capability classification by D. Roberts of the Albsrte Fish end Wildlifs Division.

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RECREATION CAPABILITY

Because the lakes in the area are generally shallow and have extensive weed patches, soft bottoms, and poorly drained featureless backshores, they have no potential for intensive recreational activities. On the other hand, the Peace and Smoky rivers and a few of the lakes have good potential for less intensive water-oriented activities, such asviewing, boating, and fishing. Camping, pic nicking, and hiking are enhanced by the numbers of game animals, waterfowl, and fish. In some water bodies perch, pickerel, pike, and grayling are plentif ul. Haig Lake has a large whitefish population. Moose are prevalent in the northeast; deer, black bear, lynx, and smaller upland species are common throughout. Upland bird and waterfowl hunting is good, especially in the agricultural regions.

Haig Lake has the best recreational potential in the area. It has clean water, excellent fishing, and well-treed, well-drained backshores. Boat launching can be accommodated almost everywhere, and at some places along the shore there are beaches for swimming and bathing. The lake straddling Tps. 83, 84R.15, 16-W. 5th also has clean water and some sand beaches. In a few places along the shores of Cadotte Lake, boat launching and picnicking are possible; however, weeds and a soft bottom hamper the use of most of the shoreline. Cardinal Lake, though large, is shallow and has a fluctuating shoreline. An improved beach at the Provincial Park on the eastern shore provides for boat access, swimming, picknicking, and camping.

The Peace and Smoky rivers have excellent potential for many forms of recreation, such as hunting, hiking, viewing, camping, and collecting. There are frequent sites for family boat launching, and swimming is possible in some of the backwaters along the islands. Around the town of Peace River are several excellent viewpoints from which the confluence of the Smoky and Peace rivers may be seen. The most famous of these is the grave site of Twelve Foot Davis. Many of the smaller streams, especially those with fishing potential, can accommodate picknicking, camping, and associated activities. Although many parts of the area are covered by extensive bogs that hinder access, there are frequent patches of parklike coniferous cover that are excellent for camping, hiking, and collecting. The Whitemud Hills in the western part and the glacial ridges north of Marten River add topographical variety to the landscape. Associated mixed tree cover and streams combine with this increased local relief to raise these parts one class above the surrounding land.

The recreation capability of the Peace River area is low and is confi ned to a few good lakes and streams and the Peace and Smoky river valleys. Although there is no potential for intensive recreational activities, that for less intensive activities is good.

Capability classification by C. J. Tracie and K. A. Novakowski.

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