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Ecological Framework of Canada
Ecoregions of Canada


This ecoregion extends to include the Coast Mountains from the British Columbia-Washington border north to Burke Channel and Bella Coola. The Pacific Ranges are high, irregular, steeply-sloping mountains that form the main southern part of the rugged Coast Mountains. They are composed of crystalline gneisses and granitic rocks, ranging from sea level to 4000 m asl. The higher peaks are surrounded by expansive ice fields; many large glaciers extend to low elevations but do not reach sea level. Numerous, large, steep-sided, transverse valleys, inlets, or fjords dissect this mountainous coastal region. The mean annual temperature for the major valleys is approximately 6.5°C with a summer mean of 13.5°C and a winter mean of -1°C. Mean annual precipitation ranges from 1500 mm in the lower elevations up to 3400 mm at higher elevations. The ecoregion incorporates three main ecological zones: the coastal forest zone, which ranges from sea level to about 900 m asl; the subalpine zone, from about 900 to 1800 m asl; and the alpine zone above 1800 m asl. Vegetative cover of the low-elevation slopes includes very productive stands of western hemlock, western red cedar and amabilis fir. Drier sites support stands of western hemlock and Douglas-fir. The subalpine zone is dominated by forests of mountain hemlock and amabilis fir with some yellow cedar. Podzolic and Dystric Brunisolic soils form on mineral materials. Mesisols and Humisols are the typical soils formed on organic materials. Sloping and basin bogs as well as stream fens and floodplain swamps are the major wetland forms in the ecoregion. Humo-Ferric Podzolic soils form in the subalpine. In addition to the rock outcrops and ice fields at highest elevations, Podzolic, Regosolic, and Brunisolic soils are found in the alpine portions of the ecoregion. Characteristic wildlife includes black-tailed deer, black and grizzly bear, mountain goat, wolf, mink, otter, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and blue grouse. This ecoregion contains some of the most productive forest lands in Canada. Important land uses include pulp and sawlog forestry, production of hydroelectric power, water-oriented recreation, and tourism. Much of the forest land is under Tree Farm Licence. The main communities are Squamish, Whistler, Hope, and Pemberton. The population of the ecoregion is approximately 36 500.

This ecoregion is part of the Pacific Maritime ecozone.