Background:

 

The John Prince Research Forest (JPRF) encompasses 13 032 ha of crown land in North Central BC, 50 km north of Fort St. James. The forest is situated between Tezzeron (Chuzghun) and Pinchi (Tesgha) lakes in the traditional territory of the Tl'azt'en First Nation. The research forest was established in 1999 as a result of many years of planning by the University of Northern British Columbia and the Tl'azt'en First Nation. The landscape exhibits diverse forest types and land management history and has a wide range of natural resource values and environmental conditions.

This research forest is unique in North America in that it is the only research forest that is jointly managed by a University and a First Nation community. The purpose of the forest is to promote inter-disciplinary research while providing education and employment opportunities for the local community.

Location

The JPRF is comprised of two separate portions. The main portion of the forest is 12,644 ha in size and is bordered on the north by Tezzeron Lake and on the south by Pinchi Lake. A narrow limestone escarpment makes up the western boundary and the east side is an administrative boundary that runs approximately parallel tot the eastern shore of Tezzeron Lake. In addition to this main section there is a 338ha portion of the JPRF that is located on a peninsula on the west side of Tezzeron Lake.

 

Topography

The JPRF has a range of elevation between 700 and 1267m asl. The landbase is situated between two large lakes with a ridge running between with slopes going down to each lake. There is an additional ridge on the west side of the research forest.

Geology

The JPRF is located in the Nechako Plateau physiographic region, which is primarily flat or gently dipping volcanic rocks. The Pinchi Fault, which runs southeast along the west boundary of the JPRF, separates the paleozoic (mainly limestone) region from the mesozoic bedrock which forms Pinchi Mountain and other extrusions within the forest. The Pinchi Fault is laced with cinnabar which has high mineral values for mercury, subsequently this was the reason for the establishment of the Cominco Mercury mine in the 1940s.

Soils

The soils of the JPRF are primarily from the barrett soil association (65%), other soil associations present include Berman (8%), Decker (2%), Fort St. James (12%), Kloch Lake (5%), Oona (2%), Pope (4%) and calcareous bedrock (2%).
The majority of the forest has orthic gray luvisols, with some limited amounts of brunisolic gray luvisols, orthic dystric brunisols and orthic eutric brunisols. Luvisols tend to be neutral to slightly alkaline and are more susceptible to leaching than the brunisols.

Parent materials are primarily morainal (65%) with some lacustrine (20%), colliuvial (8%), organic (5%) and bedrock (2%).

Soils textures are predominantly gravelly loams and silt loams (65%). There is a significant proportion of fine clay types (12%), gravelly loamy sands (10%), and clay loams (8%). Organics make up about 8% of the soil types.

The majority of the soils on the Research Forest are moderately well drained (85%). Small components are poorly drained (5%), rapidly drained (6%) and well-drained (4%).

Within the Research Forest, significant proportions of the soils tend to be shallower than modal (48%) at depths of 100 cm or less. Likewise, some 26% are considered to be wetter and/or colder than the average soil types in this region. Seven percent exhibit gleying.

Biogeoclimatic Zones

The John Prince Research Forest is located in the Sub-Boreal Spruce (SBS) biogeoclimatic zone. Three subzones are represented within the forest: Stuart Dry Warm Sub-Boreal Spruce (SBSdw3, Dry Cool Sub-Boreal Spruce (SBSdk) and Mossvale Moist Cool Sub-Boreal Spruce (SBSmk1).
Ninety-one percent (11,820ha) of the JPRF falls within the SBSdw3. This subzone falls within an elevational range of 750-1100 m asl and tends to be warm relative to other SBS subzones. Winter precipitation is comparatively low with snowpacks of up to 2 m in depth.

Climate

The climate on the Research Forest is continental with long, cold winters and relatively short, cool summers. Table 2 itemizes climatic statistics of the biogeoclimatic subzones occuring on the Research Forest.

Table 2 Climate Data by Biogeoclimatic Subzone

Climatic Characteristics SBSdk SBSdw3 SBSmk1
Annual precipitation (mm) mean 480.6 552.9 727.4
range 415.9-586.3 427.0-648.5 628.3-838.2
Growing season precipitation (mm) mean 211.0 274.8 272.6
range 167.4-323.0 248.0-296.3 196.8-432.0
Annual snowfall (cm) mean 188.1 204.1 306.3
range 121.9-265.2 169.8-225.8 241.7-355.5
Annual temperature (oC) mean 2.1 3.4 1.5
range 0.8-3.5 2.0-4.4 -0.2-3.3
Growing Degree-days (>5oC) mean 1028 1224 975
range 884-1145 1072-1409 751-1198
Frost-free period (days) mean 70 105 73
range 39-103 94-122 43-92

The temperate range is 28 degrees C. This range is demonstrative of cold winter conditions.

The area is located in the rain-shadow of the Coast Mountains and thus has substantially less rainfall than that for areas west of the Coast Mountains. The precipitation is well distributed throughout the year. Summer moisture deficits are generally around 100 mm in the months of June through August. More than 1800 hours of bright sunshine is received annually.

Management

Tl'azt'en Nation and the University of Northern BC share a common respect for the land, however they also recognize that people need to utilize the land in order to survive. With this understanding, the JPRF is managed as a working forest with ongoing forestry activities as well as research and educational programs that are respectful of the long history of land stewardship practiced by the local Tl'azt'en community. An independent, not-for-profit company, Chuzghun Resources Corporation, has been established to manage the JPRF. The Board of Directors of this corporation consists of equal representation from Tl'azt'en Nation and UNBC, three members from each side.

The JPRF has a mandate to promote interdisciplinary research projects through the university as well as provide continuous support to community development and training initiatives of the local community. The JPRF is committed to managing the land and its resources in an ecologically and culturally sustainable manner. The development of the land is conducted in a manner that is complementary to the traditional land stewardship practices that were implemented by the Tl'azt'en Nation.

Timber Values

The timber resources of the JPRF are diverse both in terms of species mix and age class distribution. The age class distribution exhibits a "U-shape" which demonstrates both fire suppression and accelerated cutting over the past 40-60 years. It also highlights the limited resources in the 41-100 year old class which will be harvestable in 2020-2045.

Much of the contiguous mature forest is concentrated on the southern slopes of Pinchi Ridge. There are also significant patches on the limestone ridge which makes the southwestern of the JPRF. The area north of Pinchi Ridge consists mainly of younger age classes reflecting the extensive logging history in that area. The eastern portion of the JPRF exhibits a diverse mosaic of both young and old classes.

The majority of the forested landbase consists of Spruce (Sw) and Douglas Fir (Fd) leading stands (62%). Lodgepole Pine (PI) and Balsam (Ba) contribute an additional 12 %each. Hardwoods consisting of Cottonwood (Ac), Trembling Aspen (At) and Paper Birch (Ep) make up the remainder (14%). Total standing volume of timber on thew JPRF is approximately 1.8 million cubic meters.


Hydrology

The JPRF lies in the Nechako Lowland Ecosection and is situated between two large lakes, Pinchi Lake (~ 2750 ha) and Tezzeron Lake (~ 3750ha). There are numerous small streams in the JPRF draining into both lakes totaling more than 1400km. In addition there are also many small lakes, ponds and wetlands that comprise approximately 186 ha. All lakes and streams flow into the Nechako River Watershed.

 

 

 


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