Lac la Biche, Alberta
The Lakeland area is in northcentral Alberta, about 35 km east of the town of Lac la Biche and north of the community of Rich Lake. It encompasses Lakeland Provincial Park and Lakeland Recreation Area, thus covering a total area of about 59,000 ha. Within these two areas are many lakes including: Siebert, Pinehurst, Touchwood, Kinnard, and Helena lakes. Much of the forest surrounding the lakes is old growth (including White Spruce stands, White Spruce-dominated mixed wood stands and deciduous-dominated mixed wood stands). The area also has important lacustrine, wetland, and riparian habitats.
Moose, White-tailed Deer. Mule Deer and Black Bear occur here, as do small numbers of the nationally vulnerable Woodland Caribou. Lake Whitefish, Northern Pike, and Walleye are among the fish species found here. There is a domestic commercial and a sport fishery in the recreational area portion of the site. One of the lakes, Siebert Lake, is particularly important for fish.
Lakeland is important for both its breeding Red-necked Grebes, and for its diversity of forest breeding birds. About 815 Red-necked Grebes are estimated to breed here. This is approximately 2% of the North American population of this species.
A draft bird checklist for the Lakeland area includes 251 species. This diverse breeding bird community includes many boreal forest species. In particular, the breeding bird community includes species associated with old-growth stands, an increasingly rare habitat in this ecoregion. At least 16 species of warblers, plus other neotropical landbird species, are locally common breeders in areas of old-growth forest only. Breeding indicator species which range from fairly common to common, include Winter Wren, Blue-headed Vireo, Blackburnian Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Mourning Warbler, and Connecticut Warbler. The forests of this area also support small breeding populations of Broad-winged Hawk (dark morph), Barred Owl and Boreal Owl.
Numerous waterbirds are found in and around the lakes: Touchwood Lake is known for fall concentrations of loons; Osprey and Bald Eagle breed in several locations each; large numbers of Common Mergansers have been seen along the north shore of Siebert Lake; and Yellow-headed Blackbirds and Common Terns colonies are found here. Other waterbirds seen here include Double-crested Cormorants, American White Pelicans and Forsters Terns.
The Lakeland Provincial Park and Recreational Area is owned by the Province of Alberta, and was officially legislated in 1992. About a third of the park is old-growth, but many of the old-growth stands are situated within the recreational area, where logging is permitted. Some suggest that the 60 to 70 year harvest cycle may not be long enough to support the old-growth species that are present.
Petroleum exploration is also permitted, which leads to further fragmentation of the forests. On some of the larger lakes, the disturbance associated with boating and float planes is also a concern. The entire area has also been proposed as an Environmentally Sensitive Area.IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status