Fort à la Corne / Choiceland

Community Assessment & Adaptation Options:

Fort à la Corne Provincial Forest is an island forest found within the Boreal Transition Ecoregion. The forest is located east of Prince Albert, south of Choiceland and immediately downstream of the junction of the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers known as “The Forks” (Figures 1 and 2). Like other island forests within the Boreal Transition Ecoregion, Fort à la Corne occurs on a sandy deposit, where vegetation is dominated by aspen and jack pine and is of low suitability for agriculture. The area is subject to timber harvesting, wildlife habitat, livestock grazing, outdoor recreation, gravel extraction and diamond exploration and development (Figure 3). The James Smith Reserve with over 1700 residents lies immediately to the south. The James Smith Cree Nation recently completed a feasibility study for development of a dam on the Saskatchewan River to produce hydroelectricity.

Figure 1 Location of Fort a La Corne Boreal Transition Ecoregion

Figure 2 Fort A La Corne Island Forest

Figure 3 Area of Diamond Interest

The Boreal Transition Ecoregion, is nearly 50% cultivated with the remainder largely forested. Major communities include Prince Albert, Meadow Lake, Nipawin, Melfort. Land use includes forestry, agriculture, tourism and outdoor recreation. The forest sector is currently struggling due to depressed markets for pulp and paper, lumber and panelboard.

Fort à la Corne forest is significant for climate change. It is at the dry southern margins of the boreal forest, and is expected to be among the first areas to be affected. The forest may function as an “early warning system” for the impact of climate change on the larger boreal forest. This may manifest itself by poor timber regeneration or conversion to bush or grassland following timber harvest or wildfire. Tree mortality may also increase as a result of drought, insect attack or, in the case of jack pine, parasitism by dwarf mistletoe.

Climate Normals (1971-2000) for Choiceland

  • The average daily temperature ranges from -18.7°C in January to 17.4°C in July with 5 months being below 0°C (November to March). The lowest average daily minimum temperature is -23.7°C experienced in January and the highest average daily maximum temperature of 24.1°C is experienced in July.
  • Annual precipitation averages 483.7 mm of which 73% is rainfall and the remainder is snow. 56% falls in the months of May, June, July and August.
  • For the Prince Albert Region:
    • an indication of the demand for cooling and heating is provided by number of degree days above 18°C – 71 and number of degree days below 18°C - 6277, respectively.
    • There are a total of 2216 sunshine hours per year (higher than Swift Current) with a minimum of 21 days of sunshine in December and over 30 days in each of July and August.

Future Climate (for Prince Albert Region)

Over the next century to 2100 climate scenarios suggest:

  • A warmer climate - temperatures may generally rise 1.5 to 3 degrees,
  • A longer growing season – but drier. This is a result of increased summer temperatures and increased evapotranspiration, despite a marginal increase in precipitation.
  • There will be a demand for summer cooling.
  • A shorter, milder winter. Heating requirements may be reduced by 10% to 20%.

Regional Adaptation Options

  •   An integrated land management approach, as advocated by the Prince Albert Model Forest, will help to manage the impacts of development in this area, particularly in light of some of the ecological vulnerabilities.
  • Forest management will need to deal with vulnerabilities arising from fire, insect and disease infestations, poor regeneration and a shorter winter season for harvesting activities.
  • Immediate and aggressive regeneration of harvested (and possibly burned) stands will help ensure that forest cover is maintained. Selection of seed from drought-resistant individuals could also help maintain forest cover in the future. Experimental planting and monitoring of exotic species (e.g. red pine, ponderosa pine) may help identify species that will grow better under future conditions.
  • Management planning needs to include the potential for a change from forest to grassland in some locations so that this can be accommodated with a minimum of disruption.
  • The area could form part of a national climate change “early warning” network of intensively monitored sites.
  • The opportunities for year-round tourism and outdoor recreation should be increased, particularly due to a longer summer season and milder winters. Winter activities may have to be curtailed due to lack of snow cover or sufficient ice thickness.
  • Development and reclamation associated with mining exploration and development should adapt to the changing climate conditions to enhance environmental performance.
  • To reduce the hazard associated with wildfire, implement FireSmart at the individual, community and landscape levels. FireSmart guides efforts to protect against loss or damage of property and personal injury, arising from fire. Additional information on FireSmart is available from the Canadian Forest Service (website) or Saskatchewan Environment (website)
  • The views of James Smith Cree Nation on managing a climate change threatened landscape need to be taken into account.


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