Alaksen National Wildlife Area
Alaksen National Wildlife Area is open to the public for day-use only. Due to safety concerns related to ongoing maintenance work, the main trail is closed until late March. Most trails are open, unless otherwise mentioned. Some visitor facilities remain closed.
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Alaksen National Wildlife Area (NWA) is located in British Columbia. The site supports an incredible diversity and number of birds each winter. It is open to visitors from 9 am until 3:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
Alaksen NWA is part of the Fraser River delta. The delta has an area of 67,000 hectares (ha), including the NWA’s 349 ha. The delta is an important migration stop-over, and a wintering area for a large number of migratory birds along the Pacific coast. It contains:
- estuarine habitats
- remnant wetlands
- riparian forests
- agricultural areas
- urbanized zones
The delta attracts up to 1.4 million birds migrating from Siberia to South America each year. No other site in Canada supports such a diversity and number of birds in winter. No comparable site exists along the Pacific coast between California and Alaska.
Snow geese in concentrated flocks are a spectacular sight at the NWA. The numbers exceed 25,000 beginning in October. They are abundant in upland fields during both high tide and inclement weather events. It is also common to see flocks of 15,000 or more dabbling ducks making use of the NWA. The most plentiful are:
Alaksen NWA was established in 1976. The NWA mainly consists of four former deltaic islands. Causeways and dykes joined the islands together in the earlier part of the 20th century. Alaksen NWA contains habitats and wildlife found on the Fraser River Delta. Known for its wildlife, Alaksen NWA is recognized as:
- part of a globally significant Boundary Bay-Roberts Bank and Sturgeon Bank Important Bird Area (IBA) by Important Bird Areas Canada
- part of the Fraser River Delta Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention
- a Western Shorebird Reserve Network site by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
A section of Alaksen NWA overlaps with the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) as well.
More information on Alaksen NWA can be found in the summary table below.
Under the Canada Wildlife Act, NWAs are protected and managed in accordance with the Wildlife Area Regulations. The primary purpose of NWAs is to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitat. For this purpose and according to the legislation, all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife can be prohibited. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all activities are prohibited. However, some activities may be authorized through public notice or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWAs Management and Activities section.
More information on access and permitting for Alaksen NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.
Planning your visit
Alaksen NWA visitors can enjoy wildlife and bird watching, as well as a number of trails. The British Columbia Waterfowl Society offers interpretive programs for groups of all ages.
The British Columbia Waterfowl Society manages the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) under an agreement with Environment and Climate Change Canada. The public can visit daily from 9am until 4pm. The rest of Alaksen NWA is open from 9 am until 3:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
Agricultural activities are permitted within Alaksen NWA. This type of management provides high quality habitats for waterfowl. Agricultural activities also preserve habitat for the conservation of other wildlife.
Note: Do not bring pets to the sanctuary.
A protion of the Alaksen NWA overlaps with a portion of the George C Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. This is the main area used by the public. It is located just under 10km west of Ladner in the Municipality of Delta, British Columbia (a suburb of Vancouver).
Directions from Vancouver
Follow Highway 99 south through the Massey Tunnel. Exit onto Highway 17A southbound to Ladner Trunk Road (Highway 10). Follow Ladner Trunk Road west until it bears right and turns into 47A Avenue, and then bears left and turns into River Road. Next, follow River Road westward for 3 km. Cross the bridge to Westham Island. Follow Westham Island Road to where it ends. Here you can either:
- follow the sign pointing left towards the entrance gates of the sanctuary and follow the driveway 1km to the sanctuary parking lot; or
- go straight into the Alaksen and park in the visitors' parking lot.
More information on access and permitting for Alaksen NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada Regional Office.
Map of the area
Map showing the area around Westham Island at the end of the Fraser River Delta in British Columbia. The boundaries of the Alaksen and of the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary are indicated. The covers the northwestern side of the Westham Island as well as portions of the surrounding water.The migratory bird sanctuary overlaps the western portion of the and extends into the Strait of Georgia. Approximately a third of Westham island is covered by the . The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the in Canada.
This map is for illustrative purposes only. It should not be used to define legal boundaries.
|Protected area designation||NWA|
|Latitude/longitude||49°06' North, 123°10' West|
|Reason for creation of protected area||It is an important migration stop-over and wintering area for large numbers of migratory birds.|
|Date created (Gazetted)||1972 - Legal description|
|International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category||V - Protected Landscape/ Seascape|
|Keystone or flagship species|
|Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)|
|Main habitat type||
|Main threats and challenges||Urban and industrial development in the vicinity of the NWA affect the coastal estuary ecosystems.|
|Management agency||Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)|
|Public access and usage||Limited in NWA|
Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice legally prevails.
Environment and Climate Change Canada - Pacific Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
5421 Robertson Road
Delta British Columbia
Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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