Lac du Bois Grasslands

January 04, 2011

DSCN0801

Photographer: Stu Witmer
Summary author: Stu Witmer

British Columbia is well known for its mountains; however, this Canadian province also has extensive grassland. One such is the Lac du Bois Grassland just north of the city of Kamloops.

When the Pleistocene ice sheet was at its height, glaciers more than a mile (2 km) thick covered the land around Kamloops. After the ice retreated, the land was covered with extensive layers of gravelly silt and sand that had been ground up by the ice. Today this glacial till can be seen in the roadcuts as a light brown mix of silt, sand and stones overlaid by a thin layer of windblown sediments. The soils of the Lac du Bois grasslands consist predominately of chernozems that developed on the blanket of glacial moraine.

Established in 1996, Lac du Bois Grasslands Park contains a diversity of vegetation communities in its more than 35,000 acres (15,000 hectares) ranging from semiarid grasslands to dry ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests. The photo above shows a scene in the Bunchgrass zone. Here Bluebunch wheatgrass is the characteristic grass species. In the drier areas prickly-pear cactus can be found while in the wetter areas aspen can take hold. The climate here is dry with warm summers and short winters. The grasslands of the park are home to a variety of birds including rare species such as Lewis’ woodpecker, peregrine falcon, prairie falcon, and two types of owl.

Local pictographs indicate that in the past humans have used the area for root gathering and hunting. Today grazing is the primary use. Over the years many plants have been altered or eliminated for crops, forage and motorized recreation. Photo taken September 20, 2009

Photo details: Camera Maker: NIKON; Camera Model: E5700; Focal Length: 8.9mm (35mm equivalent: 35mm); Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0018 s (1/544); ISO equiv: 200; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Light Source: Unknown; Flash Fired: No (Manual); Color Space: sRGB.