Columbia National Wildlife Area
Columbia National Wildlife Area (NWA) is in southeastern British Columbia (BC). It provides important wetland habitat for migrating waterfowl.
Columbia NWA has four separate units: Wilmer, Spillimacheen, Brisco, and Harrogate. The NWA is located in the southern part of BC’s Rocky Mountain Trench, which separates the RockyMountains to the east from the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains to the west.
The NWA contains wetlands and lowland coniferous forest. It is actually part of a larger wetland system: the Columbia Wetlands. The Columbia Wetlands have a great diversity and variety of wildlife. They contain important resting and breeding habitats for waterfowl and migratory birds of the Pacific flyway.
In the late 1960s, the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) became interested in properties within the Columbia Valley. Many unprotected properties had important waterfowl habitat. CWS started negotiations to acquire goose production areas near Wilmer in 1970. By 1976, CWS purchased around 405 ha. In 1978 those lands became the Wilmer NWA. In 1977, the Nature Trust of BC began to acquire properties in the Columbia Valley. This was based on CWS’ recommendations.By 1984, the Nature Trust had purchased approximately 529 ha at Spillimacheen, Brisco, and Harrogate. CWS is currently leasing these properties. Together withthe Wilmer property, they form Columbia NWA.
There is more information on Columbia NWA in the summary table below.
CWS manages the four units of Columbia NWA. These areas provide important wetland habitat for migrating waterfowl. The NWA is also important for other wetland-dependent wildlife, fish, and plant species. This is especially the case for species considered rare, threatened, or endangered.
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 andtheir habitat. For this purpose and according to the legislation, allactivities 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 withthe management plan goals for the NWA.
For more information, consult the NWAs Management and Activities section.
Access to the Columbia NWA is not restricted and activities may be permitted in accordance with the conservation objectives of the NWA management plan. Public notices listing the authorized activities in the wildlife area are posted at access points. For certain type of activity, additional federal or provincial permits may be required. Some seasonal activities such as hiking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing will be permitted provided that they do not result in negative impacts to the conservation values of the area.
More information on access and permitting for Columbia NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.
Map of the area
This map shows the area near Edgewater in southeast British Columbia. It shows the boundaries of the four units of Columbia NWA. The NWA units are on the west side of Highway 95. They are, from north to south, Harrogate Unit, Spillimacheen Unit, Brisco Unit, and Wilmer Unit. The first three units are northwest of Edgewater. Wilmer Unit is south of Radium Hot Springs. The scale on the map is in km. Permanent water, intermittant waters, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset national map shows the NWA’s location in Canada.
This map is for illustrative purposes only. Do not use it to define legal boundaries.
|Protected Area designation||NWA|
|Latitude, longitude||50°49'N, 116°16' W|
|Reasonfor creation of protected area||It was created to preserve and manage key areas for waterfowl.|
|Date created (Gazetted)||1978-84- Legal description|
|International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category||Ia - Strict NatureReserve|
|Additional designations||Partof Columbia Wetlands Ramsar site
Anestablished Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area (BC Province)
|Keystone or flagship species|
|Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)|
|Main habitat type||Wetlands|
|Invasive species||Canada thistle|
|Main threats and challenges||None recorded|
|Management agency||Environmentand Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)|
|Public access and usage||There are some seasonally accepted activities such as:
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 and Yukon Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
5421 Robertson Road
Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
- Columbia National Wildlife Area pamphlet
- Columbia National Wildlife Area Management Plan
- Managing conflicts with migratory birds
- 10 great places to connect with nature
- Columbia National Wildlife Area on Google Maps (Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name)
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