Lusicich, Crowsnest Pass, AB (Photo by NCC)

Lusicich, Crowsnest Pass, AB (Photo by NCC)

Douglas-fir forest

Douglas-fir is a species primarily found in British Columbia and along the west coast. Douglas-fir forest actually crosses into Alberta in only a few places, such as passes like the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) Crowsnest Pass.

The tree has a thick burly bark, making it fairly fire tolerant. When low intensity grass fires occur on the savannahs, individual trees usually survive, allowing Douglas-fir to become fairly old and gnarly. Its the fire and animal grazing that keeps other trees from establishing, thus maintaining the savannah. 

The Douglas-fir is not a true fir, hence its Latin name Pseudotsuga menzesii (Pseudo meaning not real, or fake). It is easily identifiable by its cones, which have distinctive bracts on them that stick out of the main cone. The trees create excellent habitat for many birds and mammals, whether they perch or live on the branches or take refuge under them during storms or for shade.    

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Funding provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada