In the far north of British Columbia and on the easternmost edge of the Rocky Mountains lies Pink Mountain.
Its unique combination of altitude, latitude and geology makes Pink Mountain one of a kind in the province and a very special place. The summit of Pink Mountain is Arctic/Alpine tundra – one of the harshest habitats on Earth.
The biodiversity on Pink Mountain is astonishing but it is the community of rare and rarely seen plants that truly sets it apart.
There is a greater number of Red listed (in immediate danger of extinction in BC) and Blue Listed (severely threatened in BC) plants on Pink Mountain than any other location of its size north of Vancouver.
In addition there are dozens of Arctic/Alpine plant species that are rarely seen because of their remote habitat. Also, there are plants on Pink Mountain that are not normally found on tundra and shouldn’t be there.
One of the best/worst features of Pink Mountain is the road access to the summit. This makes an enormous Arctic/Alpine laboratory available to researchers. It is also a prime contributor to several of the current threats to this rich eco-system.
There are many unanswered questions about Pink Mountain. No ecological survey has been done and much research is needed. What is already apparent is that Pink Mountain is a very special place.
Now, it appears that runaway resource development is about to totally destroy this unique-in-the-province site.
Where is Pink Mountain?
On the Alaska Highway approximately 180 km north of Fort St John in northern BC is a dot on the map labeled Pink Mountain. This is the community of Pink Mountain, which consists of a store, campground and gas pump on one side of the highway and a motel on the other.
Slightly north and west of the community is Pink Mountain itself. The mountain is only 1700 m or 5800 ft at its highest point but it is so far north that the summit is entirely tundra habitat. Tundra habitat is rare in BC and accessible tundra even more so. Accessibility is just one of the aspects that make Pink Mountain special.
There is a Provincial park on Pink Mountain established to protect a fossil bed but it is located in an area that offers no protection for plants.
Current commercial activity on the summit consists of several communication antennas and two gas wells. The antennas are powered by diesel and propane generators. These generators create noise pollution that is audible at every point on the summit and the heavy trucks carrying fuel are destroying the road in places. Any road reconstruction would destroy numerous rare species. The gas wells have resulted in the bulldozing of several hectares of fragile alpine habitat and there is survey evidence to indicate additional wells are planned. Fortunately existing gas wells are located to the north of the main rare plant concentrations but planned new wells threaten the plants.