Alaksen National Wildlife Area

Notice

Alaksen National Wildlife Area is open to the public for day-use only. Visitors must check in with the commissionaire at the visitor parking lot. Visitor parking and washrooms are open. Most trails are open, unless stated to be closed.

  • social distancing is encouraged
  • respect the environment and leave no trace
  • remember, you are responsible for your own safety

Alaksen National Wildlife Area (NWA) is located in southwestern British Columbia. This site supports an incredible diversity of wildlife and habitats. It is open to visitors from 9am until 3pm, Monday to Friday, excluding statutory holidays.

Description

Alaksen NWA was established in 1976 and mainly consists of four former deltaic islands. Causeways and dykes joined the islands together in the earlier part of the 20th century. Alaksen NWA provides exceptional habitats for wildlife found on the Fraser River Delta. Known for its unique array of wildlife, the 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
Shoreline within Alaksen National Wildlife Area

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 stopover, and an overwintering area for a large number of migratory birds along the Pacific coast. The delta contains a number of valuable habitat types such as:

  • 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. This site is unique in that no other location in Canada supports such a diversity and number of birds in the winter. Similarly, no comparable site exists along the Pacific coast between California and Alaska.

Lesser 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 abundant are:

  • widgeons
  • mallard
  • northern pintail
  • teal

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.

Management

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 wildlife 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 in these NWAs are prohibited. However, some activities may be authorized through Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWA Management and Activities section.

Planning your visit

Alaksen NWA is one of the 10 sites selected as part of the Connecting Canadians to Nature program and is an ideal place for any nature-lover to visit. Whether you’re interested in trail walking, wildlife viewing, nature photography or geocaching, there is an activity for every member of the family. The recommended time spent at Alaksen NWA is 1-3 hours, however visitors are welcome for longer or shorter visits within the opening hours of operation. Alaksen NWA is open from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday excluding statutory holidays.

Flock of snow geese within Alaksen NWA

Any authorized activities are listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations; signage is also posted at access points.

Authorized activities listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Alaksen NWA:

  1. wildlife viewing during designated opening hours
  2. hiking on designated roads and trails during designated opening hours
  3. participating in a group meal or group event involving 15 or more people in designated areas during designated opening hours
  4. operating a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and trails and in designated parking areas during designated opening hours
  5. motorized and non-motorized boating in the main channel portion of the Fraser River located in the wildlife area
  6. sport fishing from a boat in the portion of the Fraser River located in the wildlife area, in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of British Columbia for sport fishing in that province
  7. activities referred to in items 5 and 6 from sunset to sunrise, in addition to during the period referred to in subsection 3.1(3) in the regulation

Trails

Alaksen NWA currently has three hiking trails open to visitors, all of different lengths. A trail map is located within the visitor’s parking lot on the bulletin board. All trails are relatively flat gravel trails, these include:

  • Sunnyside trail: Located East of the visitor parking lot, this 40-minute out-and-back trail offers a walk through the forested areas of Alaksen NWA before taking in the vista of the London slough
  • Triangle Loop trail: Enjoy a scenic walk past agricultural fields, estuarine habitat, and forested riparian areas on this 30-minute loop trail
  • Roberts Bank trail: This 90-minute out-and-back trail follows the shoreline of the Fraser River on one side while taking in views of the various sloughs on the other. An observation deck offers views of the Fraser River estuary

Public facilities

  • accessible washrooms
  • parking lot

Special location notes

  • the front gate closes at 3pm daily. Ensure you are back at your vehicle before closing time
  • no food services available on site
  • please remain on the designated walking trails
  • vehicles and bicycles are prohibited on the trails
  • dogs are allowed, but they must be kept on leash at all times
  • there is a variety of wildlife in the area, exercise with caution

Location

The Alaksen NWA is located just under 10km west of Ladner in the Municipality of Delta, British Columbia (a suburb of Vancouver). A portion of the NWA overlaps with a portion of the George C. Reifel MBS. Both the NWA and MBS can be accessed through their front gates at 5421 Robertson Rd, Delta, BC V4K3N2 or 5191 Robertson Rd, Delta, BC, V4K3N2, respectively.

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 1 km to the sanctuary parking lot; or
  • go straight into the Alaksen NWA and park in the visitors’ parking lot

GPS

49.097981N, -123.178143W

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 of Alaksen NWA
Long description

Map showing the area around Westham Island at the end of the Fraser River Delta in British Columbia. The boundaries of Alaksen NWA and of the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary are indicated. They cover 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 island and extends into the Strait of Georgia. Approximately a third of Westham island is covered by the NWA . The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water and roads are indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only. It should not be used to define legal boundaries.

Summary table

Summary table Alaksen National Wildlife Area
Category Information
Protected area designation National Wildlife Area (NWA)
Province/territory British Columbia
Latitude/longitude 49°06' North, 123°10' West
Size 349 ha
Reason for creation of protected area It is an important migration stopover and wintering area for large numbers of migratory birds.
Date created (Gazetted) 1976 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category V - Protected Landscape/ Seascape
Additional designations
Keystone or flagship species
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)
Main habitat type
  • 70% cultivated land
  • 30% mixed habitats
  • woodlands
  • wetlands
  • oldfields
Invasive species
  • bull frogs (Lithobates catesbeianus)
  • green frogs (Lithobates clamitans)
  • eastern grey squirrels
  • common carp
  • red-eared slider
  • pumpkinseed
  • Himalayan blackberry
  • evergreen blackberry
  • cordgrass – Spartina anglica, Spartina densiflora and Spartina patens
  • yellow flag iris
  • purple loosestrife
Additional links
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 Authorized activities are listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Alaksen NWA:

  1. wildlife viewing during designated opening hours
  2. hiking on designated roads and trails during designated opening hours
  3. participating in a group meal or group event involving 15 or more people in designated areas during designated opening hours
  4. operating a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and trails and in designated parking areas during designated opening hours
  5. motorized and non-motorized boating in the main channel portion of the Fraser River located in the wildlife area
  6. sport fishing from a boat in the portion of the Fraser River located in the wildlife area, in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of British Columbia for sport fishing in that province
  7. activities referred to in items 5 and 6 from sunset to sunrise, in addition to during the period referred to in subsection 3.1(3) in the regulation

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page, any notice posted at the NWA site and the law, the law prevails.

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Pacific Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
5421 Robertson Road
Delta British Columbia
V4K 3N2

Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca

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