A non-profit society is proposing a new provincial park north of Revelstoke.
The 8,408 hectare Rainbow-Jordan Wilderness encompasses significant tracts of ancient inland rain forest.
“It’s an unknown wilderness area,” said Amber Peters, biologist with the Valhalla Wilderness Society in New Denver, B.C. Peters gave a talk earlier this month at the Community Centre in Revelstoke about the proposal.
Peters said there were thought to be only three major intact biodiversity hot spots of ancient inland rain forest remaining in B.C., including the Robson Valley, Quesnel Lake Wilderness and another in the Selkirk mountains.
|Amber Peters is a biologist with the Valhalla Wilderness Society in New Denver, B.C. She gave a presentation this week at the Community Centre in Revelstoke on the Rainbow-Jordan Wilderness as part of CRED (Columbia Region Ecological Discussions) Talks, a series addressing a diversity of science topics. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
In 2017, the society was alerted to another north of Revelstoke, which included Frisby Creek and the Rainbow Valley on the west side of Lake Revelstoke.
They launched an expedition in 2018 and Peters said they found “an incredibly biodiverse ecosystem,” with trees more than three metres wide and up to 2,000 years old.
“We have waited 20 years to find this,” said Anne Sherrod, member of the Valhalla Wilderness Society.
“You’re sitting on a jewel, Revelstoke.”
Peters said the Rainbow-Jordan Wilderness harbours some of the richest inland temperate rain forest found in the province, making the unroaded and unlogged wilderness a valuable refuge for wildlife and plants.
According to Parks Canada, B.C. has one of the world’s only temperate inland rain forest, all of which is found in the Columbia Mountains. The forest is notoriously wet, owing its moisture to weather systems that come from the Pacific Ocean and rise over the Columbia Mountains. They are similar in composition and structure to coastal rain forests, which are predominantly old growth.
|The 8,408 hectare proposal of Rainbow-Jordan Wilderness. (Submitted)|
Only 17 per cent of inland temperate rain forest is currently protected and most of that does not include valley bottoms, which is important habitat.
Peters said preliminary studies of the Rainbow-Jordan Wilderness show more than 360 different species, including a lichen that is new to B.C. More than 20 rare species were also found, but in large colonies, such as smokers lung lichen.
Peters said lichen is important as they are indicators of an ecosystem’s health.
The area is also rich in fungi. A biologist found more than 100 different species after only five hours of searching.
“He was completely overwhelmed,” said Peters.
The society submitted the proposal to the provincial government last spring, along with two others, including the Quesnel Lake Wilderness and the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal, which is a 156,461-hectare area on the south end of Glacier National Park.
The government did not respond in time to Black Press on the statuses of each proposal.
“We are not seeing any movement on the creation of new major protected areas,” said Peters.
“This is a crisis. We have lost almost all of our ancient ecosystems.”
While the Rainbow-Jordan Wilderness area does not have logging cuts, surrounding areas do.
|The lichen Methuselah’s beard is abundant in the Rainbow-Jordan Wilderness, however Peters said the species is usually found in coastal rainforest and has only been found in two locations inland. (Submitted)|
Peters said the area is at risk for future industrial development as BC Timber Sales does have a forest tenure in the region. According to the society, roughly 25 per cent of the proposed park is currently designated by the province for no-logging due to mountain caribou.
The Frisby-Boulder mountain caribou herd borders the proposed park. The provincial government estimates their numbers at 11 animals and said the herd is at high risk of extinction.
If the area becomes a park, there is the risk of disturbance from visitation, said Peters, but it might be a worthwhile cost for protection.
“Stand with me as a voice for these ancient ecosystems.”