The Canada Land Inventory provides one of the most comprehensive digital map source for resource planning and 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 Map sheet 42H Cochrane, Ontario. 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 landscape ecosystem and capability perspectives. Below is an example for the Cochrane map area.
UNGULATE ECOLOGY AND LAND CLASSIFICATION
SETTLEMENT AND LAND USE
FOREST ECOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIPS
SOIL AND AGRICULTURAL CAPABILITY
LAND CLASSIFICATION FOR UNGULATES
WATERFOWL ECOLOGY AND LAND CLASSIFICATION
The area covered by the Cochrane map sheet is located in northeastern Ontario. The area mainly comprises a gently sloping and rolling plain of clay till and lacustrine clay, silt, and sand that increases in elevation from 700 feet above sea level in the northwest to 1000 feet above sea level in the southeast. The exception is the Pinard moraine, which rises 175 feet above its surroundings and exceeds 900 feet In elevation. The area lies within the Northern Clay Belt physiographic region of Ontario and has been glaciated and flooded in the past. Lake Barlow-Ojibway deposited lacustrine clays, silts, and sands over the area during the retreat of the Wisconsin Ice sheet. Several complex esker systems and the Pinard moraine remain from that period. Clay till was deposited over most of the area during the Cochrane re-advance. Scattered lacustrine deposits also resulted from the retreat of this ice.
The area is part of the Arctic watershed and includes an intricate system of rivers and streams. The Mattagami and Abitibi rivers drain the western part of the area, and the Little Abitibi, North French, Wakwayowkastic, and Kesagami rivers drain the eastern part. Despite the excessive moisture conditions, there are few lakes, except for those associated with some of the complex asker systems. The largest lakes are Kesagaml, Pierre, and Little Abitibi lakes. The main land uses of this dominantly wooded area are forestry and wildlife. There is limited agriculture around Cochrane. A few roads pass through the area, but much of the area is accessible only by boat and aircraft.
Temperatures in the area range from a mean of 0 degrees F in January to a mean
of 62 degrees F in July. There are 80 frost-free days within a 100
day growing season.
Precipitation averages 31 inches, of which 16 inches falls during the
growing season. The cool temperatures, high rainfall, and low rate
of evapotranspiration result in an annual moisture surplus of 13 inches.
The gently undulating topography, clay soils, and annual moisture surplus result in ' ii excessive wetness in much of the area. Black spruce (Picea mariana) is the main species on wet sites, but tamarack (Larix laricina) is occasionally found. On some moist and moist to wet sites balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) may be present, but black spruce is the dominant species. Shrubs on these poorly drained sites are mainly speckled alder (Alnus rugosa) and willows (Salix spp.).
On fresh and fresh to moist sites forests consist of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides), white spruce (Picea glauca), and balsam fir (Abies balsamea). In some locations white birch (Betula papyrifera) may be present. Jack pine (Pinus banksiana) is found on dry, sandy sites throughout the area. Shrubs on the better drained sites include mountain maple (Acer spicatum), hazels (Corylus spp.), and cherries (Prunus spp.).
Leatherleaf (Chamaedephne calyculata), Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), and laurels (Kalmia spp.) flourish on open bog sites, but in many regions, particularly on very wet former lake beds of the post-Cochrane period, mosses and lichens form the main vegetation. Pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), yellow water lilies (Nuphar spp.), sedges (Carer spp.), bur-reeds (Sparganium spp.), and cattails (Typha spp.) are present on sites that favor the growth of aquatic plants.
Settlement in the Cochrane area began when the rail line from North Bay was extended northward to meet the transcontinental line of the C.N.R. In 1908, the Cochrane townsite was laid out at the point that was to be the junction of the two rail lines. Townships adjacent to the townsite were surveyed and opened for agricultural settlement. Settlers moved in and painstakingly cleared the land; however, in many cases the only crop taken from the land was the timber. The settlers abandoned the difficult task of preparing the land for farming and found jobs in the forest industries that developed rapidly after the rail line was completed. The forest resource, not agriculture, became the main source of economic development. A combination of excellent timber stands, water for power and industrial needs, and rail transportation provided the bases for large scale development of forest-based industries. A very high proportion of the land remains forested. Only in the vicinity of Cochrane is there any appreciable amount of land cleared for agriculture.
The area has a moist, humid climate. The average precipitation is 30 to 32 inches, about half of which falls during the growing season. The average annual water surplus is 13 inches and the frost-free period is 76 to 92 days. Because of the high rainfall, cold temperatures and low evapotranspiration rate, excess moisture is normally a problem in the area. As a result of this climatic limitation, the highest capability rating for forestry is Class 4.
The area is located entirely within the Northern Clay and Hudson Bay Lowlands sections of the Boreal Forest Region. It is in Site Regions 3E and 2E of Ontario. In Site Region 3E, stable stands of white spruce, balsam fir, and trembling aspen grow on fresh, fine sandy sites and on the fresh to moist sites in the clay regions. Balsam poplar occurs on moist to wet sites in the warmer localities.
Poor stands of trembling aspen and white birch occur on the fresh to moist sites after severe disturbances. Black spruce stands are found on these sites after long periods without disturbance, and on the moist to wet and wet sites in the rest of the area. Jack pine occurs on the dry sand sites throughout the area. Black spruce occupies the wet and peat sites and is the predominant species in the clay belt.
Site Region 2E is characterized by stable stands of white spruce, black spruce, balsam fir, and poplar on fresh to moist sites. On the wetter sites and on the drier sites in locations with a colder ecoclimate than is typical for the area the stable stand consists of black spruce. Jack pine occurs on the dry sites in the rest of the area. On the wet sites in the colder locations, the vegetation is chiefly lichens and mosses.
Capability classification and general description by D. N. Bates, Lands and Surveys Branch Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, using field work published and unpublished material.
Unlike many other parts of the Precambrian Shield where shallow soils and rock outcrops predominate, most of this area is covered by deep soils. The soils are mostly level, poorly drained clays, often covered by organic deposits of varying depths. Deep organic soils predominate in the northern half of the area. The knob and kettle topography of the moraines east of Cochrane and around Smooth Rock Falls provides good surface drainage for the clay soils of these landform. These well-drained soils are Luvisols whereas the poorly drained clays are Gleysols. Well-drained and imperfectly drained clay soils are also found along the rivers.
Podzolic soils on sands or gravels are not as common as the clay or organic soils, but some large tracts do occur in the northwestern part of the area southeast of Little Abitibi Lake. The sandy materials on which the soils have developed are calcareous. Most of the sand and gravel soils are well or rapidly drained, but imperfectly and poorly drained tracts occur locally in association with the drier sites.
The best soils In the area for agriculture are the imperfectly drained clays and the well-drained clays on slopes of 5 percent or less. These have been rated Class 3. The cold, moist climate limits the range of crops that can be grown and reduces the harvest. Although yields can be high losses are incurred when the crop is transferred to storage. The poorly drained soils have been rated Class 4 because of wetness, and the well- and imperfectly drained sands and gravels have been rated Class 4 because of lack of moisture, low fertility, poor structure, or a combination of those limitations. Some of the coarse gravels have been rated Class 5. Soils less than one foot thick and bare rock outcrops have been rated Class 7.
A need for forest products prompted the initial settlement of the area, and this need still provides the incentive for continued development. Some agriculture occurs in the area but it is concentrated in three townships close to Highway 11. Most of the rest of the area is unsettled.
Agricultural production in the area could be improved by the introduction of belter-adapted crop varieties that will mature in the comparatively short growing season, by improved and expanded markets, and by changes in farming practices. The traditional farming methods of southern Ontario are unsuitable; what is needed are means of storing crops in the moist or even wet conditions.
The area has a high potential for recreation. The many lakes and rivers provide opportunities for a variety of activities, but most places are as yet inaccessible except by air.
Capability classification by D. W. Hoffman, Associate Professor, Department of Land Resource Science, University of Guelph.
Moose (Alces alces) is the only ungulate found in the area. Both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of food and cover production have been considered in assessing land capability to produce ungulates. Generally, growth is more rapid and more quickly established, and the nutritional quality of browse highest, on the deeper, richer soils. The highest capability for ungulate production in the area is Class 3. These Class 3 lands are limited in extent and are associated with fresh and fresh to moist sites of deep, fertile clay that are capable of providing an interspersion of good quality habitat. Ungulate production in these regions is limited by soil moisture conditions and poor soil structure, aggravated by the short, cool growing season.
Class 4 lands are more extensive and are associated with deep, fresh to moist clays, regions of clay over sand, and clay sand interspersions. These regions can provide better than average habitat, but are limited by soil moisture conditions and poor soil structure.
Most of the area has been rated Class 5. These lands are mainly associated with deep, moist to wet and wet, poorly structured clays, but they are also associated with deep, dry, infertile, silty sands and sands. Limitations to ungulate production are excessive or deficient soil moisture, poor soil structure, or low soil fertility, and often an inability to provide good habitat variety.
Extensive regions of both Class 6 and 7 lands are found in the area. Class 6 lands are associated with wet mineral clays and some organic soils. Excessive soil moisture and poor soil structure severely reduce the ability of these sites to provide quality habitat and good habitat interspersion. Class 7 sites are very poorly drained, deep organic soils that are limited by excessive moisture, low fertility, and accumulation of toxic materials. Most Class 7 lands are in the northern part on the former post-Cochrane lake beds.
Much of the area is not producing ungulates at its assessed capability because of the stage of forest maturation and, to some extent, man's activities. The capability ratings do not indicate present ungulate populations or production, but rather potential production.
Capability classification by A. M. Houser and D. A. Lymburner, Ontario Department of Lands end Forests.
The cool, wet climate and the poorly drained clay soils result in excessive wetness throughout much of the area. Extensive stands of black spruce (Picea mariana) are typical of the area Tamarack (Larix laricina) are also common. Water-filled depressions are often ringed by shrubs such as tag alder (Alnus incana), willows (Salix spp.), and dogwoods (Cornus spp.). Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) are present with black spruce on the drier sites. Jack pine (Pinus banksiana), trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides), and white birch (Betula papyrifera) are found on the sandy, drier sites.
On the boglands, a variety of shrubs are found, including leatherleaf (Chamaedephne calyculata), Labrador-tea (Ledum groenlandicum), bog rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla), and laurel (Kalmia sp.).
A limited variety of aquatic plants are found in the shallow waters of the small lakes in the river deltas and in the quiet backwaters of some of the rivers. Common plants include pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), water lilies (Nymphaea spp.), yellow pond-lilies (Nuphar spp.), sedges (Carer spp.), rushes (Juncus spp.), bulrushes (Scirpus spp.), cattails (Typha spp.), and wild rice (Zizania aquatical).
Waterfowl production in the area is moderate to fair. There are only a few lakes in the clay plain and the rates of flow in the rivers and the topography of the river valleys are generally unsuitable for establishing mash habitat along the river edges. The best waterfowl habitat in the area is found in the parts of rivers where the current is slow and the river meanders. Deltas at the mouths of several of the larger rivers also provide good waterfowl habitat.
The beaver ponds bog lakes and meandering streams vary from Class 3 to Class 5 and are limited by excess depth for plant growth or unsuitable topography for the development of vegetative edge. The Abitibi River is the most important migration region for waterfowl in the area.
The most common species nesting in the area are Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), Black Duck (Anas rubripes), Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis), Bluewinged Teal (Anas discors), and American Widgeon (Mareca americana).
Waterfowl hunting tends to be concentrated within a 6O-mile radius of Cochrane. Over the rest of the area, hunting occurs at a much lower intensity because of the absence of suitable concentration sites and limited access routes.
The flatness of the Clay Belt terrain limits the variety of possible recreation activities. In general, the upland units have been rated Class 60 and 70. The shoreland units allow greater opportunity for recreation. There are no Class 1 shoreland units. There are, however, several Class 2 bathing and camping sites (2BK) on Harris, North Burntbush, Pierre, and Little Abitibi lakes. Other beaches are located on Lower Tweed Lake (PNBY) and Twopeak Lake (PNYB).
The falls and hydro installation in the Abitibi Canyon (SZFQ) are the most outstanding features in this area. Other waterfalls are found at Poplar Rapids (4QAF) on the Mattagami River, Yellow Falls (BFKA), Loon Rapids (4FOA) on the Mattagami River, Hamilton Rapids (4FCA) on the Groundhog River, and Island Falls (4AFA) on the Abitibi River.
Several rivers in the area provide fair capability for canoeing. The Frederick House, Mattagami, Groundhog, and Abitibi rivers have been rated most suitable for canoeing. The large lakes and rivers offer moderately good opportunities for family boating. The lakes and streams provide good angling for pike, yellow pickerel, and lake and brook trout. Moose and bear populations allow moderately good hunting.
Although the variety of recreational acclivities in the area is limited, the lakes and rivers do have moderately good recreation capability for water-based activities.
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