Portobello Creek National Wildlife Area

Portobello Creek National Wildlife Area (NWA), in New Brunswick, is an important area for waterfowl and other animals. The NWA also protects 37 provincially rare plant species.


Portobello NWA is part of a large alluvial floodplain located next to the St. John River east of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Each spring the riverbanks overflow submerging all but the highest forested area. This makes it one of the most expansive wetland complexes in the Maritimes.

Portobello Creek NWA
Portobello Creek NWA. Photo: Andrew MacFarlane

2154 hectares (ha) of the 4000 ha complex has been secured under the NWA designation. The most prominent feature is Portobello Creek, which is around 12 kilometers (km) long within the NWA. It follows a meandering course from west to east as it moves slowly through large expanses of:

  • open marshes
  • shrub swamp
  • wooded swale
  • forest

It ends at the junction of Indian and French Lakes. The main tributary is Noonan stream, which runs into Portobello Creek from the north.

Wood Duck
Wood Duck.

The Portobello Creek area provides important production, staging and migration habitat for waterfowl. It is one of the most naturally productive sites in the Atlantic Provinces. In addition to the more common waterfowl species, it is one of the few locations hosting significant breeding populations of cavity nesting species.

The flood plain forest and adjoining wooded uplands provide habitat for a variety of songbirds. Some large mammals can also be found, such as:

  • moose
  • white-tailed deer
  • black bear

The area has been identified as a recommended ecological reserve under the International Biological Program - Conservation Terrestrial.

More information on Portobello Creek NWA is provided 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.

Access to Portobello Creek 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 within the wildlife area are posted at access points and include:

  • wildlife viewing
  • hiking
  • swimming
  • berry picking
  • cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skating
  • some boating

Also permitted but subject to conditions as well as Provincial and Federal regulations include:

  • fishing
  • hunting
  • trapping

Land uses; both consumptive (fishing, hunting trapping) and non-consumptive (wildlife observation) are permitted as long as they do not adversely influence:

  • the long-term quality of the habitat
  • the plant and animal life that this habitat supports

All vehicles are restricted to designated access roads and all terrain vehicles are prohibited. Small craft within the confines of the NWA are restricted to outboard motors no larger than 9.9 h.p. Tenting, camping and fires within the NWA are prohibited.

More information on access and permitting can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the area

Map, see long description below.
Long description

Map of the area west of Lakeville Corner, New Brunswick. The boundaries of Portobello Creek NWA are shown. This protected area is located to the north of the St John River, to the south of Fernmount and to the west of both Indian and French Lakes. It is separated into multiple sections spread out from east to west and covering both land and small bodies of water. The scale on the map is in kms. Permanent water, roads and highways are indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.

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

Summary Table

Summary table
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory New Brunswick
Latitude/longitude 45°55' North / 66°20' West
Size 2,154 ha
Reason for creation of protected area To protect regionally unique wetlands and forested floodplain habitat.
Date created (Gazetted) 1995 - Legal Description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (UICN) Management Category Strict Nature Reserve (Ia)
Additional designations Part of Lower Saint John River Important Bird Area (IBA)
Keystone or flagship species
Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Main habitat type
  • Wetland (52%)
  • Forest (48%)
Invasive species None
Other species Mammals:
Main threats and challenges Land fragmentation and encroachment
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Permitted:
  • wildlife viewing
  • hiking
  • swimming
  • berry picking
  • cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skating
  • some boating
Permitted subject to Provincial and Federal regulations:
  • fishing
  • hunting
  • trapping
  • tenting
  • camping
  • fires
  • all-terrain vehicles

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice prevails as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Atlantic Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected area directorate
17 Waterfowl Lane
Sackville NB E4L 4N1

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

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