Anderson Flats Provincial Park

History

The Anderson Flats Park area has undoubtedly been used by humans since they first arrived at the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers, not long after deglaciation some 10,000 ago.

The land, now locally known as Anderson Flats, but also known as Mission Flats or The Forks, was purchased by the Ministry of Environment from a private owner in March 2006. Purchase of the property and establishment of the park occurred in response to the opportunity to preserve public access to this recreational fishing site, on a stretch of shoreline where such riverfront access is in short supply.

The 99 hectare Class A Park was established under the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act, Bill 24-2007, in May 2007.

The property was originally Crown Granted to Thomas Crosby, a Methodist missionary whom settled in the area, in 1897. Since that time the property had numerous owners and uses. In the 1920’s the open meadows were used for landing airplanes and in 1922 the site was the first registered airfield in BC.

The park is directly adjacent to the site of a former bridge across the Bulkley River that connected South Hazelton and the Village of Hazelton. Anderson Flats has an established history of use by Bulkley, Skeena, and Kispiox River Valley residents and visitors to the area. The undeveloped property has been a recreational fishing and camping destination for many years.

Cultural Heritage

The area is said to have been used since time immemorial as a trading place. The floodplain was the site of yearly trading fairs, where traders from the Gitxsan, Haida, Tlingit, Nisga’a, Tsetaut, Kitimaat, Babine, Wet’suwet’en and other nations met to exchange products of the interior for those of the coast, share ideas and enjoy games together.

Anderson Flats Park is within the asserted traditional territory of the Gitxsan First Nation (People of the River of Mist) and is identified as Lax Lit Hetwit House territory. The park is located across the Bulkley River from Gitanmaax Indian Reserve 1 and the cultural interpretation/museum/campground facility of ’Ksan.

The site was known to be formerly a Gitxsan harvesting site for berries and other medicinal and food plants.  Given the soils and vegetation in the park, it is likely that burning was done to promote shrubs such as hazelnut, saskatoon, cherries, hawthorn, thimbleberry and highbush-cranberry, all of which are important Gitxsan food plants. As well most of these biologically rich meadows were either created or maintained by aboriginal burning, and support important traditional food and medicinal plants such as cow parsnip, fireweed, chocolate lily and marsh valerian. Prescribed burning was carried out every ten years or so to promote growth and abundance of berry bushes.

Several traditional Gitxsan net fishing sites are located upstream of Anderson Flats on the Bulkley River as well as the Wet’suwet’en village of Tse-kya at Hagwilget Canyon.

No archaeological sites are formally registered with the provincial Archaeological Branch.

Conservation

Anderson Flats Park (210 - 300m elevation) lies at the epicentre of a broad ecological transition zone (ecotone) between two different climate classifications. These include the cool, wet rainforests of the northern BC Coast and the drier, colder sub-boreal forests of the north central Interior.  This transition contributes to the rich diversity of the park. The transition zone has many unique ecosystems and is home to many organisms that are genetically intermediate between closely-related coastal and interior species, subspecies and varieties that were separated during periods of glaciation and are now interbreeding in the Skeena River valley. The best known example is Roche spruce, a hybrid between coastal Sitka spruce and interior white or white x Engelmann spruce. There are many less studied plants and animals that also appear to show introgression between coastal, interior and boreal forms in the Hazelton area.

However, due to its long history of use, the natural environment of Anderson Flats has been considerably altered.

Anderson Flats Park protects 82 hectares of the Cranberry Upland (CRU) ecosection. Currently < 0.5% of this ecosection is protected provincially. The park also provides protection for a remnant portion of underrepresented Interior Cedar – Hemlock, Hazelton Moist Cold (ICH mc2) biogeoclimatic variant in the Cranberry Upland Ecosection, including an area of river valley floodplain. Only 4% of this Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC) variant is protected provincially.

Two blue-listed ecological communities are found in the park which include the Mountain alder, red osier, dogwood, lady fern (ICHmc2/Fl02) occupying ~.8 ha. and the Hybrid white (Roche) spruce, paper birch, devil’s club (ICHmc2/$54) covering ~14 ha.

Four vascular plant species that are uncommon to rare in northwestern BC which have been noted to occur in Anderson Flats Park and are considered to be regionally significant include grooved agrimony (Agrimonia striata), ostrich fern (Matteucia struthiopteris), black sanicle (Sanicula marilandica) and silver burweed (Ambrosia chamissonis).

Anderson Flats Park plays a significant role in conservation and preservation of provincially and regionally significant fish values associated with the Skeena and Bulkley Rivers. These two rivers are both Class II waters. This provincial designation is indicative of highly productive streams that are carefully managed to preserve unique fishing opportunities. Both rivers contribute significantly to the province’s reputation as a world class fishing destination.

The park also includes a section of the Bulkley River floodplain, which is not represented elsewhere in the provincial park system.

Anderson Flats Park is located directly across the Skeena River from Bulkley Junction Park. This contiguity with Bulkley Junction Park secures public access to river frontage and provides protection for the riparian areas on both shores of the Skeena River, while also preserving scenic values for both parks.

Wildlife

The Skeena and Bulkley Rivers provide provincially significant spawning and rearing habitat for steelhead, chinook, pink, coho, sockeye and chum salmon. All these species migrate past this park. Deeper pools adjacent to park provide rearing and over-wintering fish habitat for steelhead, rainbow, bulltrout and cutthroat trout.

Wildlife observed in the park includes black bear, grizzly bear, moose, coyotes, wolves, marten, otter, beaver, bald eagles and many other bird species.