Graham-Laurier Provincial Park

History

The Graham-Laurier area was originally identified as an Area of Interest to the Protected Areas Strategy in 1992. In 1997, the Fort St. John Land and Resource Management Plan confirmed the importance of protected status for the Graham-Laurier area.

Cultural Heritage

Conservation

Graham-Laurier Park provides landscape transition from the foothills to the Rocky Mountains through representation of the Misinchinka Ranges and Peace Foothills ecosections. The Misinchinka Ranges, found in the western portion of the park, are unlike the rest of the Rocky Mountains due to their lower elevation and relief and reduced alpine and valley glaciation. The Peace Foothills are a blocky mountainous area within the rainshadow of the Misinchinka.

The Misinchinka Ranges are composed of schists of late Precambrian and Cambrian age, which lie in a belt along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountain Trench. These rocks are unable to support the sheer slopes and castle-like forms that are characteristic of other Rocky Mountain Ranges.

Only short stretches of the Graham River are actually within the park. These include the upper drainage from its source to just downstream of Poutang Creek, the Christina Falls area and stretch upstream of Crying Girl Prairie. The southern portion of the park houses the Needham Creek drainage and a portion of the Emmerslund Creek drainage. The Graham River is a tributary of the Halfway River, which empties into the Peace River; the Peace is part of the Mackenzie River watershed, which ultimately empties into the Arctic Ocean. Lady Laurier, a picturesque alpine lake, is one of the few waterbodies within the park and is surrounded by Mount Lady Laurier, the highest peak in the park.

The park has three biogeoclimatic zones within its boundaries. These zones illustrate the transition from river bottom, old-growth forests to sub-alpine and alpine areas. Only a small portion of the Boreal Black and White Spruce zone is found in the southeast corner of the park along the Graham River and contains extensive stands of old-growth habitat. The Engelmann Spruce Sub-alpine Fir occurs along the lower elevations of each drainage. This is a sub-alpine zone characterized by severe climatic conditions; heavy growth of Engelmann spruce and sub-alpine fir thins rapidly to scrubby sub-alpine fir. This vegetation is replaced by the Alpine Tundra zone at higher elevations.

Wildlife

A diverse variety of wildlife inhabits this mountain landscape. The area provides high quality habitat for moose, elk, stone sheep and mountain goat. The abundance of prey supports predator species such as wolves and grizzly and black bears. Other important wildlife includes furbearers such as marten, fisher, weasels and wolverines. Information on small mammals, amphibians, birds, invertebrates and reptiles is relatively unknown.

The Graham River and its tributaries have very high fisheries values. Inventories of the Graham River have identified bull trout and slimy sculpin. Arctic grayling is found in Lady Laurier Lake, while rainbow trout can be found at Needham Creek. Christina Falls is a natural barrier to fish migration and, as a result, populations in the rest of the park are genetically isolated.