Long Lake (near Boyle)

Basic Info
Map Sheets83I/7
Lat / Long54.4333333, -112.7500000
54°25'N, 112°45'W
Area5.84 km2
Max depth9 m
Mean depth4.3 m
Dr. Basin Area82.4 km2
Dam, WeirNone
Drainage BasinBeaver River Basin
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishNorthern Pike, Walleye, Yellow Perch
Trophic StatusEutrophic
TP x41 µg/L
CHLORO x18.8 µg/L
TDS x207 mg/L
52
Photo credit: unknown

Introduction

Long Lake is a pretty lake set in a steep-sided, heavily wooded valley in the County of Thorhild. It is located about 130 km northeast of the city of Edmonton and 15 km south of the village of Boyle. To reach the lake from Edmonton, take Highway 28 to Highway 63. Drive north on Highway 63 to Newbrook, then east on Secondary Road 661 for 13 km and north on Secondary Road 831 for 7 km; turn east onto the entrance road to Long Lake Provincial Park (FIGURE 1).

The name of the lake is descriptive of its shape and has been used locally for many years (Alta. Rec. Parks n.d.). The area around Long Lake was originally fur-trading country, and at one time, many important fur-trade routes passed through the area surrounding Boyle. The land around Long Lake was not settled, because it is steep and wooded, but the lumber industry was important to the area's development. Seven sawmills have operated along the western shore of the lake since the first one was established in 1918 (Alta. Envir. 1985). Frequent forest fires, however, hampered lumbering operations, and timber cutting had ceased by 1940 after most of the white spruce had been logged (Alta. Rec. Parks n.d.).

Long Lake has been locally popular for recreational use since the early part of the twentieth century, and in 1957, Long Lake Provincial Park was established through the efforts of local community organizations. All land around the lake belongs to the Crown. Land within the park was surveyed for a subdivision in 1958, but park policy on subdivisions changed the following year. The park boundary was altered, and the subdivision, which remains on Crown land (FIGURE 2), was transferred out of the park (Alta. Rec. Parks n.d.).

At present, Long Lake Provincial Park encompasses 7.68 km2 of land on both sides of the lake (FIGURE 2), but all recreational development is on the west side. The park provides day-use and camping services year-round. Facilities include a food concession, a boat rental, tap water, several campgrounds with a total of 220 campsites, two day-use areas, two playgrounds, a picnic shelter, two beaches, two docks and two boat launches. Activities that are enjoyed on and around the lake include fishing, swimming, power boating, canoeing, windsurfing, water skiing, hiking and wildlife viewing. There are no boating restrictions over most of the lake, but in posted areas such as designated swimming areas, all vessels are prohibited, and in other posted areas, powerboats are restricted to maximum speeds of 12 km/h (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988).

In 1972, the County of Thorhild developed a ski area one kilometre north of the park boundary on the western shore. Winter facilities include a chalet, five downhill ski runs, toboggan runs, cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails. In summer, the area offers limited camping facilities and nature trails (Alta. Envir. 1985).

Long Lake turns green with algae in late summer, and aquatic vegetation is abundant in some areas, particularly at the north end near the outflow (Mitchell 1988). The lake supports a year-round sport fishery for walleye, northern pike and yellow perch. Occasional winterkills of fish have been reported (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.). There are no sport fishing regulations specific to Long Lake, but provincial limits and regulations apply (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989).

Drainage Basin Characteristics

Long Lake's drainage basin is about 14 times larger than the lake (Tables 1, 2). A small spring on the western shore and a dozen small streams provide inflow. The lake is located in a large meltwater channel, the Long Lake valley. The valley begins south of Long Lake, where White Earth Creek joins Edwand Creek near the town of Smoky Lake, and extends northward through Long Lake to the northern tip of Amisk Lake. The channel is part of two watersheds, the Beaver River Basin and the North Saskatchewan River Basin, which are divided by a point of land 4.8 km south of Long Lake (Alta. Envir. 1985). Outflow from Long Lake drains north to Amisk Lake and eventually to the Beaver River via the Amisk River. The outlet stream flows intermittently and is dotted with beaver dams along its length.

The drainage basin is an undulating to gently rolling till plain that slopes steeply down to the lake (Greenlee 1975). Surface elevations range from 621 m along the lakeshore to 730 m at the northwest corner of the watershed. Surficial deposits of glacial till mixed with sand and gravel form the east and west slopes of the valley, which are broken by many parallel ridges. On the west side of the lake, the land drops quite steeply to the shore from a height of 40 to 80 m, and the slopes are cut by steep-sided stream channels. On the east side of the lake, the height of the banks is much lower than on the west side (Alta. Envir. 1985). The main soils in the drainage basin are Orthic Gray Luvisols (Greenlee 1975).

Long Lake is part of the Dry Mixedwood Subregion of the Boreal Mixedwood Ecoregion (Strong and Leggat 1981). Most of the drainage basin (98%) is forested. Trembling aspen is the dominant tree, with secondary quantities of balsam poplar. White spruce is the climax community in areas that have escaped fire and harvesting (Alta. Envir. 1985). Jack pine grows in rapidly drained, sandy soil and sedge/grass communities grow on wet margins and in poorly drained depressions. Black spruce/Labrador tea bogs are located throughout the watershed, and saskatoon/low shrub communities occupy steep, south-facing slopes (Alta. Envir. 1985). Agriculture is severely limited by adverse topography and soil conditions, and only about 1% of the land has been cleared for this purpose. The Thorhild Grazing Reserve is located at the southern end of the watershed.

Lake Basin Characteristics

Long Lake is 13-km long and less than 1-km wide (FIGURE 2). The lake has two basins, a larger one at the south end, and a smaller, shallower one at the north end. In the central part of the south basin, the lake bed drops steeply to depths of 6 to 9 m. The lake bottom varies from sand or rocks in shallow areas, to shallow mud at depths of 2.5 to 6.0 m, to a deep layer of organic material and mud in the deepest areas. The shoreline is composed of sandy soil and mud (Thomas and McDonald 1963).

The elevation of Long Lake has been monitored since 1969 (FIGURE 3). The difference between the minimum historic lake level (620.50 m), recorded in October 1972, and the maximum level (621.23 m), recorded in July 1986, is 0.73 m. Changes in the lake's surface area and volume with fluctuations in water level are illustrated in Figure 4.

Water Quality

The water quality of Long Lake has been monitored jointly by Alberta Environment and Alberta Recreation and Parks since 1983 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]).

Long Lake is a well-buffered, freshwater lake; the dominant ions are calcium, sodium and bicarbonate (TABLE 3). The lake is shallow, and despite the protection afforded by its high banks, it is frequently mixed by wind during the open-water season. Periodically, very weak thermal stratification occurs, as in July 1985 (FIGURE 5), when weak stratification was accompanied by very low dissolved oxygen concentrations (less than 1 mg/L) in water near the bottom sediments. Low concentrations of dissolved oxygen also occur annually under ice cover (FIGURE 5). Concentrations over the bottom sediments decline to zero in some winters, as in 1985, 1986 and 1987, but surface concentrations are sufficient to overwinter fish.

During the open-water period, changes in the phosphorus and chlorophyll a concentrations in Long Lake (FIGURE 6) are similar to those in other shallow, eutrophic, well-mixed lakes in Alberta. Concentrations of phosphorus are highest from mid- to late-summer when phosphorus is recycled from the bottom sediments into the upper layers of the water column. Consequently, blue-green algal blooms may occur during these months, as reported in July 1985 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]).

Long Lake is eutrophic. Average total phosphorus and chlorophyll a concentrations are moderately high (TABLE 4). The loading of phosphorus to Long Lake from external sources is estimated to be 1,237 kg/year, or 0.21 g/m2 of lake surface area (TABLE 5). Almost three-quarters of the phosphorus load originates from runoff from forested parts of the watershed. The provincial park sewage lagoon and residential septic tank effluents, on the other hand, account for less than 2% of the external load. These sewage inputs were not measured at Long Lake - they were estimated from data collected for other Alberta lakes. Atmospheric deposition and runoff from nonforested parts of the watershed provide the remainder of the input.

Biological Characteristics

Plants

Quantitative information about the phytoplankton and macrophyte communities is not available. In 1963, Fish and Wildlife Division noted that "heavy plankton blooms are frequent" occurrences in Long Lake (Thomas and McDonald 1963) and in July 1985, Alberta Environment noted a blue-green algal bloom (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]). Macrophytes are abundant in littoral areas, particularly at the north end of the lake.

Invertebrates

The zooplankton and benthic invertebrates in Long Lake have not been studied in detail.

Fish

The year-round sport fishery for walleye, northern pike and yellow perch is very popular with visitors to Long Lake, although few large pike are caught (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.). Burbot also inhabit the lake. At present, Long Lake is managed for recreational fishing only, but between 1943 and 1961, the lake supported a commercial fishery for northern pike, yellow perch, walleye and cisco. The largest part of the catch was usually northern pike and cisco (Alta. Rec. Parks Wild. 1976). Cisco harvests fluctuated between 100 and 4,300 kg/year; the maximum cisco harvest was recorded just prior to the closing of the fishery in 1961. During the mid-1940s, the annual northern pike harvest approached 9,000 kg, but in subsequent decades it declined to less than 2,000 kg.

Wildlife

Approximately 92 bird species have been sighted at Long Lake Provincial Park, including Chestnut-sided Warblers, which are at their northwestern breeding limits, and Nashville Warblers, which are far from their known western breeding limit in Manitoba. An active Osprey nest is located near the southern park boundary (Finlay and Finlay 1987). Birds that use the lake include Red-necked Grebes, Horned Grebes, Blue-winged Teal, Mallards, Lesser Scaup and Lesser Yellowlegs (Friesen and Schaafsma 1973).

Eighteen mammal species, including deer, moose, black bear, coyote, porcupine, varying hare, beaver, muskrat and mink, have been sighted at the park (Friesen and Schaafsma 1973).

M.E. Bradford

References

Alberta Environment. n.d.[a]. Envir. Assess. Div., Envir. Qlty. Monit. Br. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

-----. n.d.[b]. Tech. Serv. Div., Hydrol. Br. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

-----. n.d.[c]. Tech. Serv. Div., Surv. Br. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

-----. 1985. Long Lake background report. Plan. Div., Edmonton.

Alberta Forestry, Lands and Wildlife. n.d. Fish Wild. Div. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

-----. 1988. Boating in Alberta. Fish Wild. Div., Edmonton.

-----. 1989. Guide to sportfishing. Fish Wild. Div., Edmonton.

Alberta Recreation and Parks. n.d. Parks Div. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

Alberta Recreation, Parks and Wildlife. 1976. Commercial fisheries catch statistics for Alberta, 1942-1975. Fish Wild. Div., Fish. Mgt. Rep. No. 22, Edmonton.

Alberta Research Council. 1972. Geological map of Alberta. Nat. Resour. Div., Alta. Geol. Surv., Edmonton.

Energy, Mines and Resources Canada. 1972, 1973. National topographic series 1:50 000 83I/7 (1972), 83I/10 (1973). Surv. Map. Br., Ottawa.

Environment Canada. 1982. Canadian climate normals, Vol. 7: Bright sunshine (1951-1980). Prep. by Atm. Envir. Serv. Supply Serv. Can., Ottawa.

Finlay, J. and C. Finlay. 1987. Parks in Alberta: A guide to peaks, ponds, parklands & prairies. Hurtig Publ., Edmonton.

Friesen, R.D. and S. Schaafsma. 1973. An ecological survey of Long Lake Provincial Park, Vol. 1. Alta. Ld. For., Prov. Parks Plan. Div., Edmonton.

Greenlee, G.M. 1975. Soil survey of Long Lake Provincial Park and interpretation for recreational use. Alta. Inst. Pedol. Rep. No. M-75-5. Alta. Res. Counc., Soils Div., Edmonton.

Mitchell, P.A. 1982. Evaluation of the "septic snooper" on Wabamun and Pigeon lakes. Alta. Envir., Poll. Contr. Div., Water Qlty. Contr. Br., Edmonton.

-----. 1988. Alta. Envir., Envir. Assess. Div., Envir. Qlty. Monit. Br., Edmonton. Pers. comm.

Strong, W.L. and K.R. Leggat. 1981. Ecoregions of Alberta. Alta. En. Nat. Resour., Resour. Eval. Plan. Div., Edmonton.

Thomas, R.C. and D. McDonald. 1963. Long Lake survey, St. Paul Region. Alta. Ld. For., Fish Wild. Div. Unpubl. rep., Edmonton.


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