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Environmental, Historical, Recreational Opportunities

Geology (Bedrock & Surficial)

According to the Geological Map of Alberta (Alberta Geological Survey, February 15, 1999), the bedrock underlying the site is the Upper Cretaceous Horseshoe Canyon Formation (symbol Khc) consisting of sandstone, mudstone, shale, concretionary ironstone beds, scattered coal and bentonite beds of variable thickness, and minor limestone beds. The formation is mainly nonmarine.

According to the Quaternary Geology, Central Alberta map (Alberta Geological Survey, 1990), the surficial deposits consist of flat to undulating draped moraine and stagnation moraine with an undulating topography.

Black Nugget Coal Mine No. 1107

The majority of the quarter section was mined for Sub-bituminous C coal between 1923 and 1965 (source: “Alberta Energy Utility Board (AEUB) Coal Mine Atlas Operating and Abandoned Coal Mines in Alberta 4th Edition, Version 1.0”). The depth from ground level to the top of the coal seam was recorded as 9 metres and the thickness of the coal seam was given as 1.7 metres.

Topography and Relief – Black Nugget Lake Quarter Section & Neighbouring Lands

The non-mined farmland in the vicinity of the Black Nugget Lake quarter section has an undulating topography and low relief.

Aerial photo pointing out the Black Nugget Lake quarter section among surrounding sections.

Aerial photo pointing out the Black Nugget Lake quarter section among surrounding sections.

 

In contrast, the Black Nugget Lake site has a mixed topography including areas that are flat, undulating, rolling and hilly. In the steeper portions, slopes range from 30 to 45 degrees. The most elevated part of the quarter section is found within the hilly area on the eastern side. Total relief within the quarter section is estimated to be 18 metres (about 60 feet).

Aerial photo pointing out the hilly elevated area along the eastern boundary of the quarter section

Aerial photo pointing out the hilly elevated area along the eastern boundary of the quarter section.

 

Hilly elevated area looking southeast

Hilly elevated area looking southeast

Ecology of the Black Nugget Lake Quarter Section

The quarter section is situated within the Aspen Parkland Ecoregion (from 1993 poster Ecoregions of Alberta – joint publication of Forestry Canada and the Alberta Forest Service & Alberta Agriculture & Food’s website).

This ecoregion is a large region in east-central Alberta that extends from the Foothills to the west, north of Edmonton and across to the provincial border with Saskatchewan. The Aspen Parkland is characterized by a mosaic of rough fescue grassland and aspen forest stands. Shrub communities are also common. This ecoregion represents a transition zone between the Grassland and Boreal ecoprovinces.

Fish and Wildlife within the Quarter Section

Mammals: White-tailed deer, red fox, coyotes, muskrats, mice, and Richardson’s ground squirrels are common residents.

The following species of birds are some of those that have been frequently seen on-site:

Eared Grebe
American Pelican
Double Crested Cormorant
White-fronted Goose
Canada Goose
Snow Goose
Tundra Swan
Blue-Winged Teal
Ring-Necked Duck
Gadwall
Lesser Scaup
Ruddy Duck
Red Head
Bufflehead
Mallard
American Widgeon
Canvasback
Northern Harrier
Red-Tailed Hawk
American Coot
Sora
Sandhill Crane
Great Blue Heron
Willet
Killdeer
American Avocet
Spotted Sandpiper
Lesser Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs
Common Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Common Tern
Black Tern
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Alder Flycatcher
Red-Eyed Vireo
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-Capped Chickadee
House Wren
American Robin
Yellow Warbler
Clay-Coloured Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Western Meadowlark
Red-Winged Blackbird
Yellow-Headed Blackbird
American Goldfinch

Black Nugget Lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout every year. It is rumored that they are hard to catch because there is an abundant food supply including freshwater shrimp and leeches.

View looking west of Black Nugget Lake from the eastern side of the quarter section.

View looking west of Black Nugget Lake from the eastern side of the quarter section.

Vegetation Overview

Vegetation within the quarter section is divided into five general zones: Campground, Upland Field, Upland Thickets and Shoreline Habitats. Vegetation within the Lake – Aquatic Zone has not been described below. While it is clear that most if not all trees within the Campground have been planted, an interesting question relates to the extent that the old coal mine (which appears to have been strip-mined) was reclaimed and re-vegetated. One possibility is that there was some post-mining re-contouring and re-vegetation occurred naturally. Bearing on this question; it is noted that the County of Beaver acquired for recreation ground purposes the 50 acre parcel in the northwest corner of the quarter in 1962 (three years before the Black Nugget Coal Mine Co. finished mining). In 1972, Lands and Forests (provincial) purchased the remainder of the quarter section. Did the county and province reclaim the quarter section?

Campground – Trees

Pine (jack?), Elm, White Spruce, Balsam poplar, Tamarack, Willo

Upland Field

Black Nugget Lake Campground.

Black Nugget Lake Campground.

 

Asters (various species)
Canada Thistle
Fireweed
Goldenrod
Grasses (various species)
Prickly Rose
Raspberry
Sagewort
Snowberry (buckbrush)
Sowthistle
Western Dock
Wild Chamomile
Wild Mint
Wolf Willow
Yellow Sweet Clover

 

Purple Asters in upland field area.

Purple Asters in upland field area.

 

Upland Thickets

Aspen
Balsam Poplar
Willow (various species)

Thicket - looking north over the northeast corner of the quarter section.

Thicket – looking north over the northeast corner of the quarter section.

 

Shoreline Habitat

Balsam Poplar
Bulrush
Cattails
Sedges
Willow

Shoreline habitat with Cattails.

Shoreline habitat with Cattails.