The Peace River is an enormous waterway that originates in northeastern British
Columbia and flows east across the breadth of Northern Alberta to Lake Athabasca.
The upper reaches of the drainage in the Rocky Mountains have been developed
for hydro power. The WAC Bennett
and Peace Canyon hydro-electric dams produce 31% of British Columbia's
hydro-electric power. A third dam, called Site C, was proposed for the Peace
River. However, plans for the Site C project are currently on hold.
Below the hydro development, the river valley is comprised of broad terraces and steep slopes. Forest cover is mainly mixed deciduous with conifers more prevalent along the north-facing slopes. Climatic conditions, along with the fertile soils of the valley, are favourable for a strong agriculture industry primarily consisting of forage, cereal, and oilseed crops and some commercial vegetable production.
Twelve species of sport fish live in the Peace River mainstem, downstream of the Peace Canyon Dam between Hudson's Hope and Fort St. John. The most abundant are mountain whitefish, Arctic grayling, rainbow trout, lake whitefish, and walleye. Bull trout, Kokanee, and northern pike are present in lower numbers. Marshes along the river provide excellent habitat for nesting and migratory waterfowl. Some of the songbirds that regularly migrate through the area are rare in the rest of British Columbia. Mule and white-tailed deer are quite common, and there are extensive areas of critical ungulate wintering habitat along the south-facing banks of the Peace River and its major tributaries.
The scenic qualities of the river valley are also noteworthy. The changing vegetation patterns, terraces, and steep valley slopes provide interesting views for people on the upland areas or from the river. The river is heavily used by local residents for boating, swimming, rafting and fishing. The Peace River has significant cultural and historic values associated with First Nations settlement. In addition, exploration and the fur trade associated with the travels of people such as Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser, David Thompson, John Finlay, and John Stuart are part of the river's history. Remnants of a fort built by the Northwest Company in 1806 can be found at the mouth of the Beatton River.
Gas reserves are being developed in the region, and there is a high potential for future gas discoveries throughout the valley corridor. This is a significant long-term interest that has major economic benefits for the region. The Fort St. John Land and Resource Management Plan, approved in 1997, and the Dawson Creek Land and Resource Management Plan, approved in 1999, recognize this broad mix of important land values and present objectives and strategies to integrate the desired land use and development activities.
Proclaimed B.C. Rivers: