The Foothills region is divided into the Upper and Lower Foothills, and they are located along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. They are called Foothills because they lie at the foot of the mountains. The Foothills region also covers a large area northwest of the town of Peace River. Flat-topped hills and thick coniferous forests where lodge pole pine, white and black spruce, and fir trees grow dominate the region.
The Foothills region is known as a transitional zone. This means that it is in the middle of two other natural regions: the Rocky Mountains and the Boreal Forest.
The climate of this region is influenced by the elevation of region and the mountains to the west. Areas that are elevated often receive cooler temperatures and more moisture than low-lying areas like the plains. Mild, moist Pacific air comes across the mountains and produces precipitation. The result is that the Foothills region has a higher rainfall than the plains region of Alberta.
Higher precipitation is good for the region’s vegetation. There are large lush forests, creeks, and a variety of wetlands where drainage is poor.
The Foothills were not suitable for growing crops, so farmers and other homesteaders did not build many settlements in the area. However, the region is rich in natural resources.
The huge forests are in demand by logging companies. Driving through the foothills you can see big patches of logged areas making the impact of this industry very visible. Logging can destroy the natural region if not done properly. Problems like soil erosion and water pollution can result from logging. In Alberta, forest management organizations try reduce the damage done to the forests.
The bedrock of the region contains oil, natural gas and coal. Coal mining operations are very destructive to the environment. Some mining operations can make entire mountains disappear. Coal is in demand all over the world, and is a major source of Alberta’s wealth. Oil and natural gas companies also damage the environment when extracting natural resources. They build roads into remote areas to find oil and natural gas. They also cut down sections of forest and clear land away to make cutlines. Then they drive the equipment and workers in to begin drilling. All this human activity can cause problems like erosion, pollution, and pressure on the wildlife population.
Parts of the foothills in southern Alberta are used for grazing purposes. Humans also use the region as major tourist and recreation area.
To learn more about the Upper and Lower Foothill sub-regions follow the link below to the page and choose a sub-region listed above from the menu at the bottom of the page.
All content was adapted from:
Information provided by and printed with the permission of Alberta Community Development, Provincial Parks and Protected Areas.
Alberta Natural Regions Poster Series Manual (Alberta Environmental Protection)