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Armit Meadows Ecological Reserve

Armit Meadows Map

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Armit Meadows

Land Designation

Ecological reserves play a key role in Manitoba’s Protected Areas Initiative by
protectingunique, rare and representative examples of plants, animals, geological features
and ecosystems. They are the most protected of the provincially designated sites within
Manitoba’s network of protected areas.

Landscape Description

The 263 hectare Armit Meadows Ecological Reserve is located within Porcupine
Provincial Forest, situated in the northern portion of Manitoba’s Western Upland
Natural Region near the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border.  This impressive site includes
the southeastern portion of the Armit River Canyon and part of the Armit River Valley. 
Spruce forest dominates the landscape, but a series of small meadows supporting
grassland or wetland communities are also dispersed throughout the ecological reserve.

Outstanding Features

Armit Meadows Ecological Reserve encompasses a pristine riparian zone, undisturbed
by human activity. 
The most striking features of this site are the isolated fescue
meadows containing remnants of the endangered fescue prairie ecosystem.  These
meadows, totaling approximately seven hectares in size, are the most northerly known
location of fescue prairie in Manitoba .

Once extending over 255,000 km2, only five percent of the original fescue prairie
ecosystem remains on the Canadian prairies.  The majority of this land has been utilized
for cereal crop production, with only remnants of fescue prairie located along the
northernfringe of the prairie region.  Though not as scarce as tall grass prairie, fescue
prairie is rare in Manitoba, the most notable meadows occurring in Riding Mountain
National Park
whereit covers an estimated 600 hectares.

Plants of the grass genus Fescue (Festuca sp.) dominate the fescue prairie meadows,
while other dominant species include Awned Wheat Grass (Agropyron subsecundum),
Cow-parsnip (Heracleum lanatum), Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), Northern
Bedstraw (Galium boreale) and Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).  Other species
found within the ecological reserve include Prickly Rose (Rosa acicularis), Early Blue Violet
(Viola adunca), Creamy Peavine (Laythyrus ochroleucus), Narrow-leaved Meadowsweet
(Spiraea alba) and Hairy Woodrush (Luzula acuminata), as well as several members of the
aster family.  The prairie provides significant winter habitat for elk, known to rely on a diet of
grasses and grass-like plants during the winter months.

The ecological reserve also supports some dry Sphagnum meadows dominated by Sphagnum
mosses (Sphagnum spp), Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), Sheathed Cotton-grass
(Eriophorum vaginatum), Sedges (Carex spp), Swamp Birch (Betula pumila) and Small
Bog Cranberry (Oxycoccus microcarpus).  Large Sphagnum dominated openings may not
be common in the Porcupine Hills, but they are encountered frequently in other parts of
Manitoba.

The small fescue meadows support species unlikely to be encountered elsewhere in this
region of Manitoba, hence acting as an important reservoir for biodiversity.  The Armit River
Canyon
and meadows thus comprise a visually and ecologically spectacular site, making
Armit Meadows Ecological Reserve an esteemed new addition to Manitoba’s network of
protected areas.

As an ecological reserve, the Armit Meadows site will be maintained for the preservation
and protection of pristine riparian habitat.  Passive visits on foot will be allowed without
a permit. All other activities will require prior approval.