Ningunsaw River ER# 59 Overview
ORIGINAL PURPOSE: To preserve an elevational sequence of three biogeoclimatic zones in a
transition between coastal and interior climates
The reserve encloses a rounded mountain on the interior flank of the Coast Mountains. This mountain, in contrast to higher peaks south and west of it, was over-ridden by Pleistocene ice, and is too low to have developed alpine glaciers during the post-glacial period. All slope exposures except southwest are represented. An unnamed creek in the southern part of the reserve has eroded a deep, steep-sided valley into the sedimentary bedrock. Most of the reserve is gently to strongly sloping but small alluvial flats occur along the Ningunsaw River which flows in an arc around the north side of the reserve, marking the reserve boundary for half of its perimeter.
Wide elevation range, a variety of slope exposures, and frequent snow avalanches, result in considerable habitat diversity. Climatic conditions, that transition between the wet coast and dry interior, promote a diversity of plant species but create problems for zonal classification. This reserve is near the southern limit of the Boreal White and Black Spruce and Spruce-Willow-Birch Zones, the north-eastern edge of the Coastal Western Hemlock and Mountain Hemlock Zones, and north-western extremity of the Engelmann Spruce- Subalpine Fir Zone.
Alluvial lands along the Ningunsaw River are dominated by black cottonwood- alder-willow stands or mixed spruce-cottonwood forest. Western hemlock woods, mixed with either white spruce or lodgepole pine, occur on the lower slopes, and alder-dominated slide paths form ribbons through the forest at middle elevations. Typical subalpine forests are dominated by subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce, Sitka alder, willows, one-leaved foamflower, and rosy twistedstalk. Barclay’s and tea-leaved willows, scrub birch, sweet colts’-foot, and junipers are common near timberline. Alpine communities have not been described.
The reserve provides excellent year-round habitat for Grizzly Bears and good summer through fall range for Moose.
alder, Sitka (Alnus viridis)
birch, scrub (Betula nana)
colt’s-foot, sweet (Petasites frigidus)
cottonwood, black (Populus trichocarpa ssp. trichocarpa)
fir, subalpine (Abies lasiocarpa)
foamflower, one-leaved (Tiarella unifoliata)
hemlock, western (Tsuga heterophylla) juniper, (Juniperus sp.)
pine, lodgepole (Pinus contorta)
spruce, black (Picea mariana)
spruce, Engelmann (Picea engelmannii)
spruce, white (Picea glauca)
twistedstalk, rosy (Streptopus lanceolatus)
willow, Barclay’s (Salix barclayi)
willow, plane-leaved (tea-leaved) (Salix planifolia)
Bear, Grizzly (Ursus arctos)
Moose (Alces americanus)