Lake Saint-François National Wildlife Area

Notice

Lake Saint Francois National Wildlife Area is open to the public during the day. Interpretive activities are now open.

Please note that for health and safety measures, masks are still required in federal buildings, indoor gathering limits will be implemented and social distancing is encouraged.

Respect the environment and leave no trace.

Remember, you are responsible for your own safety.

Lake Saint-François National Wildlife Area (NWA) is on the south shore of Lake Saint-François a natural widening of the St. Lawrence River. Located in southwestern Quebec, this NWA is home to an exceptional diversity of fauna and flora.

Description

The Lake Saint-François NWA was created in 1978 by Environment and Climate Change Canada to  protect a unique group of wetlands with remarkable biodiversity. This 1,317 hectares area is also recognized by the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Significance.

Lake Saint-François NWA video (available in French only)

The wildlife area consists mainly of swamps and marshes with sedge and cattail plant communities, wooded wetlands populated by red maple stands and well-drained woods featuring communities dominated by hawthorn, hickory and maple stands. The biodiversity of the area is among the most remarkable in Quebec. It is home to more than 287 animal species and 547 plant species, many of which are at risk.

Some 13 species of waterfowl nest in the wildlife area, including the:

  • Canada goose
  • mallard
  • American black duck
  • wood duck
  • lesser scaup

During migration periods, thousands of ducks use the marshes and adjoining open waters. Of the 237 bird species listed in the NWA, many landbirds and waterbirds nest in the area such as the northern waterthrush, veery, and sandhill crane. The wildlife area is also home to one of the largest sedge wren populations in Canada. Among the amphibians and reptiles seen here include the blue-spotted salamander, eastern common garter snake and snapping turtle.

Some of the mammal species present are:

  • muskrat
  • meadow jumping mouse
  • big brown bat
  • beaver
  • white-tailed deer
  • coyote

The most important species at risk found in the wildlife area are the butternut, yellow rail and northern map turtle.

Habitat of Lake Saint-François National Wildlife Area
Lake Saint-François NWA - Rivière aux Saumons. Photo: Sylvain Giguère

The wildlife area is exposed to a number of threats. This presents management challenges related to its proximity to a large city and current and past human activities. The main issues are non-point source pollution, the impact of human activities, land fragmentation, the presence of invasive alien species and the development of surrounding land.

Find more information on Lake Saint-François NWA 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 other activities are prohibited in all NWAs. 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. It is also possible to consult the Lac Saint François NWA management plan.

Planning your visit

Lake Saint-François NWA is a haven for those who enjoy hiking, wildlife watching and nature photography.
Authorized activities listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Lake Saint-François NWA, include:

  1. non-commercial wildlife viewing on designated trails and at lookouts and observation towers and in designated areas
  2. non-commercial hiking on designated trails
  3. participation in a non-commercial group meal or non-commercial group event involving 15 or more people in designated areas
  4. non-commercial operation of a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and in designated parking areas
  5. non-commercial boat launching and boat landing in designated areas during designated periods
  6. non-commercial boating in designated areas during designated periods
  7. non-commercial snowshoeing on designated trails
  8. sport hunting of migratory birds — including with dogs off-leash — without a commercial guide, from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset in designated areas, if the hunting is carried out
    1. in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of Quebec for sport hunting in that province; and
    2. without the use of toxic shot

Public facilities

Accessible public facilities include washrooms, visitor centre and parking areas.

Access to the Lake Saint-François NWA is restricted to designated areas and certain times of the year. The services offered on-site include a visitor centre, guided tours, geocaching and various conservation awareness activities. The AMAPRE is currently administering these on-site services.

To learn more about activities at Lake Saint-François NWA, contact AMAPRE.

Special warning

Please note: there may be biting insects in summer, camping is prohibited and waterfowl hunting is conducted in the NWA in the fall.

Ticks capable of transmitting Lyme disease may be present in the NWA. Please inform yourself on the prevention of Lyme disease before visiting.

Please note: Access to Lake Saint-François NWA is limited to designated areas and certain times of the year. Any authorized activities are listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations; signage is also posted at access points.

Migratory bird hunting is permitted in fall, only in an area to the west of the main entrance at the Fraser unit. The activity is no longer authorized in Pointe Fraser I and II (enhancement works) or on either side of Fraser Creek. For more information on what is permitted in NWAs, consult the NWA Management and Activities page.

Directions

Lake Saint-François NWA is located 50 km south of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.

From Montreal, take Highway 40 West (Trans-Canada Highway West) and exit on Highway 30 towards Highway 20/ON-401/Salaberry-de-Valleyfield/Toronto. Exit Highway 30 onto Highway 530. Turn left onto QC-132/QC-201 South and continue on QC-132. Turn right on Chemin de la Pointe-Fraser and continue to 7600 Chemin de la Pointe-Fraser, Saint-Aniset, QC J0S 1L0.

GPS: 45.472817, -73.730879

Please contact AMPRE for more information on services offered to the public. Contact the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office for information on access and permitting for Lake Saint-François NWA.

Notice from Environment and Climate Change Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada would like to inform the public that the Lake Saint-François NWA, located in the Municipality of Dundee, is a protected area. Established in 1978, the purpose of the NWA is to protect migratory birds, wildlife and their habitats, as well as several species at risk.

To protect this area, the Department would also like to inform visitors to the area around the NWA of their obligation to comply with the rules of the Canada Wildlife Act and the Wildlife Area Regulations. Failure to comply with the regulations may result in a fine or prosecution.

The following activities are authorized in designated areas: hiking; nature watching; photography; picnicking; and canoeing and kayaking on Fraser, Therrien and aux Gouins creeks.

Without a permit issued by the Minister specifying the authorized activities, the following are prohibited in the NWA (see section 3.(1) of the Wildlife Area Regulations:

  • hunting, with the exception of migratory birds if in accordance with authorized periods, conditions and locations, and using an authorized hunting instrument (see subsection 3(1) of the Regulations Respecting the Management of Wildlife Areas and the Control Thereof)
  • fishing
  • destroying or removing a plant
  • alowing any domestic animal to run at large
  • swimming, camping or lighting a fire
  • oerating a conveyance
  • dumping or depositing any waste

For complete information about the applicable regulations, please consult the Canada Wildlife Act, the Wildlife Area Regulations, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Species at Risk Act.

To file a complaint or report illegal activities, please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada by phone at 1-800-668-6767 or by email at enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca.

Nothing in this notice infringes on ancestral rights or Aboriginal treaty rights.

Map of the area

Map - See long description below
Map of Lake Saint-François
Long description

Map showing Lake St-François NWA in Québec. The boundaries of the NWA are indicated. The NWA has many units on the south shore of Lake Saint-François, at a widening of the St. Lawrence River. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, roads and highways are indicated on the map. An inset national map shows the NWA in Canada.

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

Summary table

Summary table of Lake Saint-François NWA
Category Information
Protected area designation NWA
Province/Territory Québec
Latitude/Longitude 45°02' North 74°29' West
Size 1,317 ha
Reason for creation of protected area To protect wetlands that are exceptional because of their location on the south shore of Lake Saint-François, and their wide variety of fauna and flora, including rare and at-risk species
Date created (Gazetted) 1978 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category III - Natural Monument or Feature
Additional designations
Keystone or flagship species
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Fifteen species under the SARA, including the:

Forty-six species under the Quebec's Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species, including the eastern sand darter

Main habitat type Marshes and swamps made up of sedge and cattail plant communities; wooded wetlands populated by red maple stands; well-drained woods featuring communities dominated by hawthorn, hickory and maple stands.
Faunistic and floristic importance The NWA serves as an important breeding ground for birds and a staging area popular among migratory birds. It also provides habitats for animal and plant species at risk.
Invasive species Presence of species such as:

  • the common reed
  • the European frogbit
  • the flowering rush
  • the reed canarygrass
  • the purple loosestrife

Presence of the zebra and quagga mussels in the nearby waters.

Additional links Birds:

Mammals:

Reptiles and Amphibians:

Main threats and management challenges
  • non-point source pollution
  • impact of human activities
  • land fragmentation
  • conservation of species at risk
  • presence of invasive exotic species
  • development of surrounding land
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Authorized activities listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Lake Saint-François NWA, include:

  1. non-commercial wildlife viewing on designated trails and at lookouts and observation towers and in designated areas
  2. non-commercial hiking on designated trails
  3. participation in a non-commercial group meal or non-commercial group event involving 15 or more people in designated areas
  4. non-commercial operation of a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and in designated parking areas
  5. non-commercial boat launching and boat landing in designated areas during designated periods
  6. non-commercial boating in designated areas during designated periods
  7. non-commercial snowshoeing on designated trails
  8. sport hunting of migratory birds — including with dogs off-leash — without a commercial guide, from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset in designated areas, if the hunting is carried out
    1. in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of Quebec for sport hunting in that province; and
    2. without the use of toxic shot

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, as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity. 

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas
801-1550, D’Estimauville Avenue
Québec, Québec
G1J 0C3

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

Association des membres et amis pour la protection de la réserve nationale de faune du Lake Saint-François (AMAPRE)
7600 Chemin de la Pointe-Fraser
Dundee, Québec
J0S 1L0

Phone number: 450-264-5908
Email: info@amisrnflacstfrancois.com

Documents and related links

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