The Atlas of Alberta Lakes was first conceived by University and provincial government scientists in the summer of 1985. We saw it as an opportunity to collect information that was scattered over the province, but largely housed in various offices of Fish and Wildlife Division, Alberta Environment and the University of Alberta. The data were often inaccessible to seasoned workers in the field and to the interested public.
The Atlas was a highly ambitious project. It required cooperation from scientists and associates in a diverse group of agencies over a period of five years.The format was developed from the concept used by D.M. Johnson and colleagues in their 1985 edition of the Atlas of Oregon Lakes and from lake brochures produced by Alberta Environment. When the project began, we underestimated both the commitment and resources required to complete the task. However, over the last three years of the project we assembled a writing team which included Marie Bradford, Jan Crosby and ourselves. Marie worked to establish a carefully constructed readable format. Jan never lost sight of the ultimate goals and diverse uses for the Atlas and the varied background and interests of our potential readers. Each member of the writing team reviewed all of the chapters - some of them several times - and worked out a common style and format. At critical times we were assisted with chapter writing by Leslie Hart Buckland-Nicks, Mark Hanson and Laurie McIntyre. Jan Crosby played a leading role in fitting together the pieces which make up the introductory and other support material (including the Glossary and Species List) which complements and completes the lake descriptions. Her dedication to the project was truly outstanding.
One of the more challenging aspects of the Atlas was the selection of 100 lakes and reservoirs. Alberta has thousands of interesting bodies of water, and there was much discussion on how the lakes should be chosen. The availability of recent, well-documented data was a strong selection factor. We also chose lakes that were intensively used for fishing and recreation. Lakes were chosen from across the province, excluding the national parks.
In the end, the Atlas reflects state-of-the-art hydrological, water quality, limnological and fisheries data on 100 Alberta lakes. We attempted to include only data that are consistent with the best modern techniques in the field and to reference all sources of baseline data for each of the 100 lakes. Undoubtedly there are errors and omissions for which we accept full responsibility.
We hope you enjoy your sojourn among the interesting features and histories of a group of lakes as diverse as those found anywhere in the world. Lakes in this Atlas are large (Lesser Slave Lake and Lake Athabasca), small (Sauer and Eden lakes), deep (Cold and Amisk lakes), shallow (Buffalo and Driedmeat lakes), mainly freshwater, with a few examples of saline lakes (Miquelon and Peninsula lakes); and they extend from the unproductive or oligotrophic (Upper Kananaskis Lake and Spray Lakes Reservoir) to extremely productive or hyper-eutrophic lakes (Nakamun and Winagami lakes). Water residence times are short in the southern onstream reservoirs (Ghost Reservoir has an average water residence time of 22 days), whereas in almost one-third of the lakes in this Atlas water residence time is estimated at over 100 years, based on surface water budgets. Some lakes have an extensively documented history of use and development (Wabamun and Chestermere lakes) and others have a colourful history (Moonshine and Pine lakes). Some have an intensively managed sport fishery (Blood Indian Creek Reservoir and Tyrrell Lake) and a few have no fish at all (Oliva and Peninsula lakes). Many provide a rich habitat for varied wildlife resources (Beaverhill and Moose lakes).
We hope the Atlas of Alberta Lakes will extend your appreciation of the tremendous aquatic resources available in our province. We also intend that information presented here will contribute to an improved understanding of prairie lakes, and lakes in general.
For those wishing to use or further explore the information in this volume, the original source material is stored with the Environmental Assessment Division of Alberta Environment.
University of Alberta
Environmental Assessment Division