About the Rocky Mountain Forest District and Area
The Rocky Mountain Forest District is over 2.6 million hectares in size and stretches from Parson in the north to the BC/Montana border in the south. With an annual harvest of over 1.6 million cubic metres, forestry is an important economic driver in the region. Crown range also provides around 60, 000 AUM for grazing of livestock, another important economy in the area. The climate of the area is generally characterised by hot, very dry summers with cool winters and generally light snowfall although this changes with elevation. Tree species in the area range from subalpine larch and Engelmann spruce in the high elevation areas to the classic western larch and ponderosa pine forests of the low country. The district is composed of two timber supply areas (TSA). The Cranbrook and Invermere TSAs
The Cranbrook TSA covers approximately 1.24 million hectares. The Cranbrook TSA is bounded by the Skookumchuck Valley to the north, the Canada-U.S. border to the south, the Alberta border to the east, and the southern Purcell Mountains height-of-land to the west. Three major physiographic regions characterize the varied terrain of the Cranbrook TSA: the Rocky Mountains in the east, the Purcell Mountains in the west, and the Rocky Mountain Trench in the middle. The trench varies in width from five kilometers in the north to 27 kilometers near Cranbrook. The western side of the Trench features irregular, comparatively low foothills gradually rising until they merge with the extremely rugged backbone of the Purcell Mountains. In contrast, the eastern side of the trench is characterized by an abrupt rise and continuous wall of mountains broken only by tributary valleys.
The Cranbrook TSA includes the cities of Cranbrook, Kimberley and Fernie, and the smaller communities of Sparwood and Elkford. Total population is around 50,000 people. Some small, unincorporated communities and a number of rural residences are dispersed throughout the TSA. The Cranbrook TSA offers many and varied opportunities for recreation and tourism, due to its lakes, parks and spectacular mountains. The area is well traveled as major highways provide access to Alberta and the national and provincial parks in the Canadian Rockies. Within the Cranbrook TSA, there are the Akamina-Kishinena, Elk Lakes, and Gilnockie Provincial Parks as well as numerous smaller parks and recreation areas and portions of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, and Top of the World Provincial Park.
The Invermere TSA is bounded by the Cranbrook TSA to the south, the Golden TSA and TFL 14 to the north, the Rocky Mountains / Alberta border to the east, and the Purcell Mountains to the west. Between these two mountain ranges lies the Rocky Mountain Trench, a broad, flat valley with numerous rivers and wetlands. The Columbia River flows north through the trench from Columbia Lake, creating a large, complex wetland ecosystem called the Columbia Wetlands. The TSA includes one national park (Kootenay) and eleven provincial parks: Mount Assiniboine, Height of the Rockies, Top of the World, Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, Bugaboo Glacier, Windermere Lake, Whiteswan Lake, Premier Lake, Canal Flats, James Chabot, and Dry Gultch.
The major population centers in the TSA are Invermere, Windermere, Canal Flats, and Edgewater, while smaller communities include Radium Hot Springs, Wilmer, Fairmont Hot Springs, and Parsons. Total population is around 10,000. Canadian Forest Products currently operates out of Radium Hot Springs, while Tembec Industries‚€™ main local presence is in Canal Flats. The Invermere TSA offers many and varied opportunities for recreation and tourism, due to its lakes, parks and spectacular mountains. The area provides a wide range of front- and back-country recreational opportunities including mountain biking, hiking, climbing, fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, whitewater boating, heli-skiing, snowmobiling, ski mountaineering, cross country skiing, and downhill skiing. The TSA also contains significant water resources. Numerous watersheds are classified as either domestic or community watersheds.
In addition, many unique species of wildlife abound in the Rocky Mountain Forest District. Ungulates include Rocky Mountain Elk, white-tail and mule deer, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and Wyoming moose. Rarer species of birds such as the Long-billed Curlew, Flammulated Owl, Lewis Woodpecker and Williamson's Sapsucker make this area their home. Unique herptiles include the Rubber boa, Tailed frog and Painted Turtle.
The Rocky Mountain Forest District is administered out of the head office in Cranbrook and a field office in Invermere.