Great Canadian Parks / British Columbia

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The Parks / British Columbia / Pacific Rim National Park Reserve



Moderate temperatures and high precipitation combine to produce the long wet growing period resulting in lush rain forest vegetation. Along the coastal edge, a stunted spruce windbreak buffers the forces of the ocean wind and spray to protect an inner forest of giant Sitka Spruce (on Carmanah Creek, the world’s tallest Sitka spruce is 95 metres). Further inland, amabilis fir, western hemlock, and western red cedar with an understory of red huckleberry, salmonberry, blueberry and salal give way to old growth forests. Characterized by mosses and ferns, these giant conifers can be over 2 000 years old and 20 metres in circumference. Where there is poor drainage, shorepine stunted by nutrient deficiency, sphagnum moss, Labrador tea and bog laurel adapt to the wet marsh. Along flooded stream banks and cleared roadsides, groves of alder grow together with willows, cascara, salmonberry and thimbleberry; Saskatoonberry, and Nootka rose hug the transition zone between rocky shoreline and forest. The grasses and sedges of the salt marshes and eelgrass along tide channels provide essential habitat for wildfowl. Where sand dunes have developed, deep-rooted grasses provide stabilization, while kinnikinnick forms the base for future vegetation. Closer to the waters edge, beach rye, beach pea and giant vetch grow among drift logs while only searocket and sandwort can withstand the action of tides and waves on the sandy foreshore. The sub-tidal zone conditions are ideal for kelp, which grows in rafts up to 30 metres deep; this is a popular feeding ground for grey whales.

 



 

Within the woodland areas, large denizens include blacktail deer, black bear, raccoon, marten and weasel. The evolution of distinct sub-species of cougar, mink, wolf, a species of marmot found only on Vancouver Island, a rare blond bear, and the Roosevelt elk may date back to a time of lower sea levels during the last glaciation, when they could have crossed from the mainland. The bald eagle is a common sight here as well as garter snakes, leatherback turtles that are considered endangered, Pacific tree frogs and several species of salamanders inhabit the forests.

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