Ecological Values of the Goat River

At 35,000 hectares, the upper Goat is the second largest undeveloped, unprotected watershed in the Fraser Headwaters region. It contributes to critical ecosystem connectivity between Bowron Lake Provincial Park and the Rocky Mountain Trench. In the Silva Forest Foundation’s Fraser Headwaters Proposed Conservation Plan (H. Hammond, et. al., 2001), the upper Goat is a key part of a conservation corridor stretching between Bowron Lake and Kakwa Provincial Parks.

The Goat River watershed provides vital habitat for numerous species including grizzly bears and mountain caribou. Mountain Caribou Mountain caribou are an endangered, red-listed species whose current population has dwindled to less than 2000 individuals from numbers estimated to be as much as ten times that a century ago.

Read more about mountain caribou in the Robson Valley

Chinook salmon travel 1,000 kilometres from the ocean to spawn in the crystal clear waters of the Goat River itself. Blue-listed bull trout also find rearing and spawning habitat here. A 2002-03 study by the BC Ministry of Environment concludes, “The Goat River . . . supports a very important and highly sensitive population of large fluvial bull trout.” (Goat River Watershed Telemetry Studies and Redd Surveys [R. Pillipow, 2003]). Endangered juvenile white sturgeon move out of the Fraser into the lower Goat for short periods.

The forest in the lower Goat is part of BC’s unique inland rainforest, here consisting predominantly of very old, large western red cedar. These trees and other cedar in the area are individually up to 2,000 years old and portions of “antique forest” have almost certainly been undisturbed for an even longer time period. Scattered individual Douglas-fir amongst the cedar are the largest in the province of the interior (or Rocky Mountain) variety.

Copyright 2010, Fraser Headwaters Alliance