GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF THE EDMONTON MAP SHEET AREA, 83 H

 

The Canada Land Inventory provides one of the most comprehensive digital map sources for resource planning ad management in Canada. The area covered by the CLI is indicated in the index map. For each of the map sheets areas land capability is mapped at 1:250'000 scale and usually at a 1:50'000 scale. This is an example for Mapsheet 83 H, Edmonton. The index map on the right shows the areas mapped for land capability under the CLI. The left image shows an example of a number of overlays displayed on Google Earth.

Each of the 1.250'000 scale maps has an extensive description of the lanscape ecosystem and capability perspectives. Below is an example for the Montreal map area.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
CLIMATE
MAIN SOIL CHARACTERISTICS
AGRICULTURE
FISH AND WILDLIFE
RECREATION CAPABILITY
UNGULATE ECOLOGY
UNGULATE CLASSIFICATION
ECOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

The Edmonton map sheet, located in east central Alberta, covers a total land area of about 5600 square miles. The city of Edmonton lies in the west central part of the map sheet. The map sheet can be divided into three general topographic areas The eastern third is a level to undulating plain; the center third, south of the North Saskatchewan River, is occupied by the rolling to hilly Cooking Lake moraine; and the western third is a level to gently roiling plain Elevations are fairly uniform throughout the area. ranging between 2,000 and 2,300 feet above sea level. Extremes occur in the Cooking Lake moraine (2,600 feet) and the Saskatchewan River valley in the northeast corner of the sheet (1,900 feet). The area is drained by the North Saskatchewan River system. The river enters the map sheet on the southwest corner, flows northeast, and leaves the area at the extreme northeast corner. Numerous shallow laker occur in the area, particularly in the region of the Cooking Lake moraine. Small sloughs ond marshes are found throughout the area, but are most abundant in and south of the moraine and on the lowland in the eastern third of the area.

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CLIMATE

In general, the climate in the Edmonton map sheet area is continental, characterized by warm summers and cold winters. The mean summer temperature is about 560F, July being the warmest month with on average of 620F. The mean winter temperature is about 160F; January, with an average temperature of 60F, is the coldest month. Except for the northeast corner, the entire area has a frost-free period (320F) of more than 90 days. The growing season is about 170 days in length, starting about April 20-25 and ending about October 6-11. The number of degree-days during the growing season is 2.000 to 2,250, with the exception of the southwest and northwest corner of the area, which has less. Precipitation varies from 16 to 18 inches, increasing from east to wast. As approximately 70 percent of it falls during the summer, the water deficit is rather low.

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MAIN SOIL CHARACTERISTICS

As this is a glaciated area, the soils have developed on glacial till, and deposits were produced by postglacial sortation, such as lacustrine, alluvial, and aeolian materials. These Pleistocene deposits are almost entirely of Edmonton formation origin; an exception is the southwest corner of the area, which is of Paskapoo formation origin. About 65 percent of the area is comprised of soils developed on glacial till, about 25 percent on lacurtrine deposits, and about 10 percent on alluvial and aeolian deposits. With the exception of the Cooking Lake moraine and portions along the western side, the area is entirely within the Black soil zone. The southeastern portion has, however, been designated as a Thin Black area. In discussing the kinds of soils found in the Edmonton area, the basis of separation is the order, as used in the Canadian system of soil classification. The characteristics of each order are briefly os follows:

Chernozemic Order -- about half of the Edmonton area has soils in this order. They are predominantly black in colour, and are found on practically all the types of parent material previously mentioned. In general, they are highquality agricultural soils and are found throughout the area. The highest concentration of Chernozemic soils is in the vicinity of the city of Edmonton. Many of the Chernozemic soils have been placed in Capability Class 1.

Solonetzic Order -- this group of soils is found throughout the area on all types of parent material. The greatest concentration is, however, on the east side of, and paralleling, the Cooking Lake moraine. Here the till is thin and is underlain by the Bearpaw shale formation. These Solonetzic soils comprise about 30 percent of the map sheet area. Generally they are considered to be in Capability Class 2 or lower, depending on degree and kind of development of the Solonetzic characteristics.

Podzolic Order -- this group of soils is mainly concentrated in the Cooking Lake moraine, and intermittently along the western and northern fringes of the area. They are mainly Dark Gray Wooded and Gray Wooded soils. About 10 percent of the total area has been classified within this Order. These soils are considered to be no better than Capability Class 3.

The remaining three orders found in this area, Gleysolic, Regosolic, and Organic, total about 10 percent of the area. They are scattered throughout, generally in association with other soils. They are generally marginal for agriculture or in the pasture classes.

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AGRICULTURE

The first farming in the area was in about 1860. By 1890 about 10,000 acres were being formed in the vicinity of what is now Edmonton. Then in 1892 the first railway reached Edmonton and settlement was greatly accelerated. Today there are over 10.000 farm operators, with an average form size of about 300 acres. Approximately 70 percent of the area has been improved for agriculture.

This has always been essentially a mixed farming area. Until 1925 oats was the dominant crop; wheat was dominant during 1925 to 1950. After 1950 barley became the dominant crop in the west, but wheat retained its popularity in the eastern half. Acreages of hoy crops have gradually been increasing to the present 8 percent. Through the years about 25 percent of the cultivated acreage has been in rummerfollow. However, this percentage is decreasing with the use of chemical weed sprays, and the increased inclusion of forages into the crop rotation. Although the area around Edmonton has a smell acreage of specialty crops such as potatoes and vegetables, the main emphases is on dairying. For this reason there is a larger proportion of forage crops in the Edmonton area than in the remainder of the map sheet area.

Capability classification·by A. A. Kieorsgaord, based on soils information contained in Alberta Soil Survey Reports.

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FISH AND WILDLIFE
The area is one of Alberta's best hunting regions for waterfowl and upland game birds. Mulitudes of ducks and geese feed on the grain fields and occupy the many sloughs. Beaverhill and Whitford lakes are not only major staging areas for migrating ducks and geese, but they are also stopping-off places for many other water and shore birds. The Hungarian Partridge, Sharp-tailed Grouse, and pheasants are common in the upland bush. White-tailed deer are found throughout the area in increasing numbers

Pickerel, perch, and northern pike are found in several of the lakes. Lake trout and whitefish have little endurance in the warm, shallow prairie lakes, and the rivers are too muddy and polluted to support quality fish. However, the North Saskatchewan River does support northern pike, perch, pickerel, and goldeye. Trout have been stocked at Leduc Reservoir, Camrose Reservoir, and Black Nugget Mine Pit near Dodds.

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RECREATION CAPABILITY

The Cooking Lake moraine has the highest potential for both water-based and upland-oriented outdoor recreation. However, swimming and bathing in the many attractive lakes of this morainic region are limited by weed-infested shorelines, algal bloom, bloodsuckers, and swimmer's itch (Shistisoma dermatitis). Sand beaches are found at Cooking Lake townsite and Lakeview (SW 18, Tp. 51, R. 21, W4) on Cooking Lake. An excellent sand beach at Miquelon Lake has resulted in the development of an intensively used Provincial Park. Lake-based cottage developments are found along several weedchoked shorelines.

The attractive, rolling upland of the moraine has potential for dispersed activities such as hiking, riding, hunting, viewing, camping, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Wizard Lake, a glacial spillway, is excellent for boating and cottaging in spite of shoreline weeds and algal bloom. The northeastern part of Pigeon Lake is located in the area. Two excellent beaches at Pigeon Lake give it the highest potential in the area. The lake is large, with clean water and a good backshore. Camping, cottaging, and fishing are associated activities on Pigeon Lake.

Treacherous water currents, frequent sand bars, and muddy water limit the recreational potential on the North Saskatchewan River to picknicking, camping, and viewing.

The eastern half of the area is one of the best game bird hunting regions in Alberta. Whitford and Beaverhill lakes are waterfowl sanctuaries and provide excellent viewing opportunities for bird watchers. Hunting for ducks and geese is excellent in surrounding grain fields and sloughs, and good on Bittern and Demay lakes. The entire area is plentiful in upland game birds for hunting and viewing. The Alberta Game Farm, with its varied world collection of upland wetland animal species, was located near the west end of Cooking Lake. It was one of the most significant recreational features in the area until it was downsized (name changed to Polar Park) and closed down in the late 1980's.

The town of Mundare is a cultural religious center. It is the focal point of Ukrainian Catholic settlement in the province. Two monasteries, a Ukrainian museum and a beautif ul g rotto, as well as many churches, are located here. Beaumont, south of Edmonton, is typical of early French settlement in Alberta. Colorful houses with steep roofs and dormers typify this churchdominated, Roman Catholic community. The Leduc and Redwater oil fields and the refineries on the outskirts of Edmonton provide interesting viewing. The area can support a moderate amount of extensive upland-oriented recreation but , except for a few lakes, it has very little potential for more intensive water-based activites.

Capability Classification by R.D. Sabine, D.L. Anderson, and K.A. Novakowski

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UNGULATE ECOLOGY

Very little native "landscape" remains. Viewed broadly, there is a gradual change in the type of native vegetation from the open parkland of the east to the coniferous forest in the west.

The Black and thin Black are the predominant soils. The Dark Gray and Gray Wooded soils occupy the Cooking Lake moraine in the central sector and some localities of similar topography in the southwest and northwest parts of the area. The dominant native vegetation produced on the Black and thin Black soils is rough fescue (Festuca scabrella) grassland and associated stands of aspen poplar (Populus tremuloides). The vegetation of the Dark Gray and Gray Wooded soils of the morainic sector and the northwestern part of the area is dominated by aspen and balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera). The muskegs, which are prevalent in local wet places in the Cooking Lake moraine region and north of the North Saskatchewan River, are predominately sphagnum moss with Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicium) the principal shrub. Bison (Bison bison), wapiti (Cervus canadensis), moose (Alces alces), and deer (Odocoileus spp.) were indigenous throughout the area in presettlement times. Today, wapiti inhabit the land adjacent to Elk Island National Park, whereas bison inhabit the fenced part within this park. Moose are still found within the Cooking Lake moraine region and are scattered throughout the strip along the western border of the area. The mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is still found scattered throughout much of the area. Their numbers have declined to some extent because of habitat loss. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), which have increased following human settlement, are found throughout the area, but are most abundant in settled regions.

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UNGULATE CLASSIFICATION

The lands, in general, have a very high capability for the production of wild ungulates. Approximately 80% of the area is designated as Class 2. Class 1 and 3 comprise 15% and the remaining 5% is made up of Classes 4 to 6. The most common limitation is the uniformity of the topography, which lacks diversity of habitat for deer. An example of this is the eastern third of the area. On the whole this land is flat to gently rolling and because of little diversity of habitat, topography (T) is a Iimiting factor.

Another limiting factor is fertility (F). The fertility limitation indicates reduced browse production and is mainly associated with the Gray Wooded soils of the Cooking Lake moraine. The key browse species used by deer are found here, however, browse production is lower than in other soil zones with the result that the carrying capacity for deer is reduced. Browse used by moose is found at a higher density; e.g., willow (Salix), birch (Betula), thus the carrying capacity is higher for moose. Adverse soil characteristics of salinity and alkalinity are limiting factors in low, wet, boggy, or marshy places. The area has been an important producer of wild ungulate populations in the past. Today much of it is dominated by man, but proper management of the remaining habitat will allow for the continued presence and utilization of wild ungulates in the area.

Capability classification by William K. Hall, Fish and Wildlife Division, Alberta Department of Lands and Forest.

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ECOLOGY

With the exception of a small region of Tertiary bedrock in th southwest corner, the entire map sheet is underlain by Upper Cretaceous bedrock. During glaciation the Laurentide ice sheet covered the entire area Therefore, transported glacial till mixed with till of local origin is the parent material of the soils of the area. In general, the till is of a clay loam texture. As a result of postglacial sorting, local areas of lacustrine, alluvial, and aeolian deposits occur throughout the area.

The block soil zone covers approximately 85% of the area. The gray wooded, dark gray wooded, dark gray, and thin black soil zones cover the rest of the sheet. Most of thesoils are loam or clay loam in texture.

Open parkland dominated by the trembling aspen (Populus fremuloides) covers most of the area. The extent of closed forest increases in the northern and western regions. In the moraine around Cooking Lake, aspen is found in association with balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), which grows on moister sites. Sphagnum moss bogs dominated by bloct spruce (Picea moriona) ore common in the moraine and in local areas on the northern and west central regions.

The principal shrubs in the area are the red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera). snowberry (Symphoricorpus occidenfolis). buffalo berry (Shepherdia canadensis), wolf willow (Eleagnos orgentea), and the fruit-bearing chokecherry (Pruus virginiona), pin cherry (P. pensylvanica), and saskatoon (Amelonchier alnifolia). Labrador tea (Ledum groenlondicum) is the principal shrub in the bogs. Several species of willow (Salix sp.) occur in moist habitats throughout the area. The basket willow (Salix petiolaris) commonly forms a fringe around ponds and marshes.

A wide variety of native grasses are present. These include bluegrass (Poa sp.), bromegrass (Bromus sp.), wheatgrass (Agropyron sp). fescue (festuco sp.), and spear grass (Stipo sp.). Foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum) is common around the exposed edges of saline sloughs. Slough grass (Beckmonnio syzigachne) is associated with marshes and found in varying degrees of abundance Marsh vegetation vories throughout the area depending on the depth and permanency of water bodies. Emergent vegetation typically associated with the deeper, more permanent marshesconsists of common cattail (Typha latifolia), hardstem bulrush (kirpus ocutus), and several species of sedge (Corex spp.). Many marshes on the eastern port of the area are fringed with whitetop (Scolochloa festocacea). In addition, some marshes have well-developed stands of rush (Juncus sp.), creeping spikerush (Eleochoris polustris). and smartweed (Polygonum sp.) on the exposed shorelines. Submergent vegetation consists primarily of sogo pondweed (Potamogeton pecfinatus), clasping leaf pondweed (F. richordsonii). and northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum exolbescens). Smaller ponds are often choked with white watercrowfoot (Ranunculus sobrigidvs), Duckweed (Lemno sp.) may form dense mats on sheltered potholes and the bays of larger marshes.

The most common species of surface-feeding ducks in the area are the mallard, blue-winged teal, widgeon, and shoveler. Green-wing teal, gadwall, and pintails are also present but to a lesser degree. Diving ducks that nest in and around the more permanent marshes are the redhead, canvasback. lesser scaup, and ruddy duck. The American coot is common. Many species of shorebirds pass through the area during spring and fall migration and several species remain to breed.

Land use in the area is primarily devoted to the production of cereal grains, particularly barley and wheat. Ranching and dairying are also important. Most of the land is occupied and much of the original parkland has been cleared for agricultural production.

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