Peace River Features
Elevation and Course
- The Peace River is 1,923 km long and drains an area of approximately 302,500 km2. It originates in the northern Rockies of B.C. and flows for most of its length through northern Alberta. It is a nationally significant waterway that supplies water to the Peace-Athabasca Delta, one of the largest freshwater deltas in the world.
- AWA’s Area of Concern includes the Peace River valley from the Alberta-B.C. border to Wood Buffalo. Most of that stretch of the river passes through Alberta’s northern agricultural region. Much of the soil in this area once lay at the bottom of ancient glacial-meltwater lakes.
- The Peace begins at 671 m and ends at 213 m. It forms the southwestern branch of the Mackenzie River system.
- Two dams disrupt the Peace in B.C.: the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and the Peace Canyon Dam. From the Alberta-B.C. border, it flows unimpeded by human-made structures until it empties into the Peace-Athabasca Delta and Lake Athabasca in Wood Buffalo National park.
- North of the town of Peace River, the Cadotte River joins the Peace. Although not a major tributary to the Peace, the Cadotte River drains an area underlain by a large oil sands deposit.
Environmentally Significant Areas
- The entire stretch of the Peace River, with the exception of two townships, is an Environmentally Significant Area of national importance.
- Peace River-Dunvegan is an Environmentally Significant Area of national importance.
- From the 1997 survey of the Environmentally Significant Areas for the province (Alberta Environmental Protection):
- Peace River-Dunvegan is an Environmentally Significant Area of national importance. It comprises 55,864 ha and stretches from the vicinity of the Smoky River upstream (the town of Peace River) to the B.C. border. The natural subregions are Peace River Parkland and Dry Mixedwood. This is one of the most diverse and productive river valleys in the Parkland and Boreal Forest of Canada.
- The river valley provides key year-round habitat for moose, elk and deer, as well as significant habitat for rare birds of prey such as golden eagles, bald eagles and osprey. The river contains high species diversity of fish, including lake whitefish, mountain whitefish, bull trout, northern pike, goldeye, walleye, yellow perch, and burbot. Bull trout overwinter in the river. Northern squawfish are only present in the Peace River, and distribution of rare largescale suckers is restricted to the Peace River drainage system. The river valley is an important movement corridor and provides provincially significant geese staging habitat. Wandering and red-sided garternakes hibernacula are common along the banks of the river.
- Diverse vegetation community types occur along the river. South-facing slopes support typical prairie vegetation such as grasses and cacti. The microclimate at Dunvegan results in a warm dry community of species such as cacti, western meadowlarks, and savannah sparrows.
- Fossil beds are abundant in bedrock exposures along the valley walls. Hoodoos occur along the south slopes along the upper reaches east of the B.C. border.
- The Dunvegan Natural Area is located within the Peace River valley.
- Altered flow regime due to upstream dams may negatively impact riparian ecosystem functioning. Maintenance of natural cover will support the widest variety of wildlife and native plants.