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'Mountain island' of rich flora and fauna in B.C.'s north worth protecting, says report

Y2Y supports a community initiative to protect the especially delicate and extraordinary ecosystem at B.C.'s Pink Mountain within an ecological reserve.

MEDIA RELEASE
July 13, 2017

Dawson Creek, B.C. — Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) supports a community initiative to protect Pink Mountain's especially delicate and extraordinary ecosystem within an ecological reserve.

Today Ron Long, wildlife photographer and Pink Mountain Biodiversity Initiative coordinator, presented the Peace River Regional District with a report on the unique biodiversity of Pink Mountain, including findings from the 2015 Peace Region Bio-Blitz hosted by Y2Y.

“We now have good evidence that the biodiversity of Pink Mountain may not be matched anywhere in British Columbia and certainly not in the north,” says Long.

Located 180 kilometres north of Fort St. John in the northern Rockies in the traditional territory of Treaty 8 First Nations, Pink Mountain and its immediate surroundings comprise an unusually rich area for biodiversity in northern B.C.

Because of its unique geology, rich community of rare Arctic/alpine plants, and diverse representation of mammals, birds and butterflies, Pink Mountain is significantly different from any other mountain in the north Peace.

Just 1700 m high, the mountain sits removed from the northern Rockies of the Muskwa-Kechika management area in the boreal forest. Unusually, it has a uniformly Arctic/alpine tundra habitat that is not normally seen at this latitude – even nearby peaks with similar elevation do not have the variety or community of arctic/alpine plants that occur on Pink Mountain.

This mountain ‘island’ of mixed subalpine/alpine tundra in a ‘sea’ of boreal forest supports mammals including pine marten, moose, black bear, elk, whitetail deer, endangered mountain caribou and Stone’s sheep. The bird community includes golden eagles, horned larks, Sandhill cranes, blue grouse and rock ptarmigan.

The unique tundra habitat bring together a rich community of rare plants. Just 2.2-square-kilometres, Pink Mountain hosts a greater number of red-listed (in immediate danger of extinction in B.C.) and blue-listed (severely threatened in B.C.) plants than any other location of equal size north of Vancouver.

There are dozens of Arctic/alpine plant species easily seen here, notable as they normally grow only in difficult-to-access regions. Due to this variety of plants, Pink Mountain attracts such a concentration of rare butterflies it is known as a hotspot internationally among butterfly enthusiasts and researchers.

The report recommends that Pink Mountain be designated an ecological reserve.

Pink Mountain is a unique area of Arctic and alpine tundra within locked among boreal forest. Photo: Ron Long“The research possibilities on Pink Mountain are so extensive we feel that it is imperative that this potential not be lost,” says Long.

Y2Y supports Long's extensive data collection, leadership and education of the public and policymakers on this special place and its precarious status. Designating this area as an ecological reserve should be part of a comprehensive plan to preserve Pink Mountain.

“The significance of Pink Mountain extends beyond the proposed ecological reserve boundary," says Tim Burkhart, Y2Y’s Peace River Break coordinator. “The entire mountain should be prioritized for conservation given its importance and potential as refugia for species affected by climate change. The value of research, preservation of rare and endangered plants and insects, and protection of critical habitat for BC’s dwindling caribou herds cannot be understated.”

Y2Y looks forward to continued collaboration with Ron Long, Treaty 8 First Nations, the Regional District and Provincial government, and the community to ensure this special place remains an intact ecosystem for future generations to enjoy and study.

The full report is available on the Peace River Regional District site.

For further comment please contact:

  • Tim Burkhart, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative Peace River Break coordinator, 250-719-9614,
  • Ron Long, Pink Mountain Biodiversity Initiative coordinator, 604-469-1651,