The park’s rolling landscape was formed by debris left long ago by glaciers. Situated on the southern edge of the Fraser Plateau, it was formed from lava flows some five to ten million years ago. The glacial eskers here are remnants of the last ice age left a landscape of small lakes and ponds. Eskers are formed when melted water rivers transport gravel and silt underneath glaciers. Tunnels near the base of retreating glaciers fill with transported sediments that remain as sandy or gravelly ridges as the glacier melts away.
The area has been witness to much of the region’s history. The first people to occupy the plateau were the Salish First Nations. They lived by hunting, fishing, and gathering edible plants. For most of the year the group was nomadic, spending the warmer months scouring the countryside for food. Winter villages, however, were semi-permanent. The Salish nomadic way of life did not survive the influx of settlers. For the last 100 years, the area has been used for cattle ranching.
Big Bar Lake Park includes representative ecosystems in both forest and lakeshore environments. The protection of this landscape for its historical attributes and aesthetic appeal is important. Equally important is the conservation of the area’s wildlife habitat and plant and animal species. The scattered lakes, ponds, and wetlands support a host of wildlife species including large and small mammals, birds, fish and amphibians.
The area’s varying seasonal weather greatly influence the plant species and wildlife. Since the park is away from the moderating influence of the ocean, the temperature extremes tolerated by plant and animal life are greater than at the coast. Both the grass and tree species found in the area are uniquely adapted to this climate. Grasses grow quickly in spring and use the moisture from snowmelt and rain. Seeds and roots lie dormant during the summer’s hot and dry spell. Common tree species include pine, spruce, and aspen. They are well adapted to dry areas and re-establish quickly following fire.
Flowers, trees and shrubs are part of the park’s natural heritage, please don’t damage or remove them.
The combination of grasses and trees with little undergrowth favour certain kinds of animals. Coyotes, hawks and eagles are also common and prey on field mice and voles inhabiting grassy areas. Black bear, deer, moose, lynx and cougar are some of the large mammals found in the park and surrounding area. Park visitors often see squirrels, snowshoe hares, chipmunks and marmots. Big Bar Lake also supports an active beaver population. Please enjoy the wildlife through quiet observation without disturbance.
Ducks Unlimited built a water control structure at the end of the marsh in 1988 to help encourage waterfowl nesting. There is excellent birdwatching here. Fishing for rainbow trout is a popular activity as the lake is stocked on a yearly basis.