Spiers Lake National Wildlife Area
Spiers Lake National Wildlife Area (NWA) is located in south central Alberta. This 64 ha parcel is situated in the transition zone between aspen parkland and prairie grassland, and thus hosts diverse flora and fauna communities.
Spiers Lake NWA is an example of plains rough fescue grassland on hummocky disintegration moraine. It also contains an alkaline lakebed that periodically fills and dries in response to climate patterns. When precipitation is adequate, several small wetlands are found in the depressions of the knob and kettle topography of this landscape. The topography and soils limit cultivation; native upland habitat types are also present in much of the surrounding area. The plains rough fescue grasslands within Spiers Lake NWA are remnants of a once expansive grassland ecosystem that has since been reduced to isolated fragments. Together these comprise only a small fraction of their historic extent; plains rough fescue grassland communities are considered rare in Alberta. The NWA is also home to three plant species that are considered provincially rare:
- marsh alkali aster
- marsh felwort
- pale blue-eyed grass
The Spiers Lake NWA is an important historic breeding site for the endangered Piping Plover, and is used by other shorebirds and prairie songbirds such as:
- marbled godwit
- western meadowlark
- savannah sparrow
- vesper sparrow
- red-winged blackbird
- chestnut-collared longspur (historically were observed nesting in the grasslands of the NWA but have not been seen in recent years)
The shoreline and wetlands provide good habitat for species that rely on alkaline flats and wetlands, such as:
- American avocet
- Wilson’s phalarope
- alkaline wing-nerved moss (Endangered)
The following dabbling ducks nest within the NWA and forage in the shallow waters of the lake and nearby wetlands:
- blue-winged teal
- northern shoveler
Mammals observed in the area include:
- meadow voles
- ground squirrels
- white-tailed deer
- mule deer
No comprehensive surveys of wildlife in the NWA have been conducted in the past decade, and little is known about the contemporary species composition.
Originally, this federal parcel of land was granted as a Homestead Land to an individual in 1910, which was later reserved under the Soldier Settlement Act, 1919 until 1938 and administered as unpatented Crown land by the Department of the Interior and its successors until 1973. Parks Canada undertook administration of the land in 1973, and eventual transfer to Canadian Wildlife Service was completed in 1982.
Find more information on Spiers Lake NWA 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 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.
Access to Spiers Lake NWA is not restricted and activities may be permitted in accordance with the conservation objectives of the NWA management plan. 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 Spiers Lake NWA, include:
- wildlife viewing
- non-commercial berry picking
- sport hunting — including with dogs off-leash when hunting migratory game birds — without a commercial guide, from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset, if the hunting is carried out
- in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of Alberta for sport hunting in that province; and
- without the use of toxic shot
- activities referred to in items 1 to 3 during the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset, in addition to during the period referred to in subsection 3.1(3)
No use or disturbance of the native vegetation is permitted. Spiers Lake NWA is managed primarily to maintain or enhance the native rough fescue plant communities and shoreline habitats as well as their associated wildlife populations. In particular, efforts are devoted to maintain the area for Piping Plover, other shorebirds, and grassland songbirds that presently use the area. Management activities involve monitoring of wildlife populations and habitat conditions, fencing of boundary and posting of signs.
More information on access and permitting for Spiers Lake NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.
Map of the area
This map showing the area around Spiers Lake in south-central Alberta. The boundaries of Spiers Lake National Wildlife Area are indicated. The protected area covers the northern tip of Spiers Lake and a portion of the land surrounding it. The wildlife area is located north of Township Roads 342 and 341A and to the west of Range Road 164. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, intermittent water, 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 and should not be used to define legal boundaries.
|Protected Area designation||National Wildlife Area|
|Latitude/Longitude||51°57' North / 112°30' West|
|Reason for Creation of protected area||To protect a representative parcel of native rough fescue grassland habitat|
|Date created (Gazetted)||1982 – Legal Description|
|International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category||Habitat/Species Management Area – (IV)|
|Keystone or flagship species||Plains rough fescue grasslands (rare ecosystem); habitat for Piping Plover and Chestnut-collared Longspur.|
|Main habitat types||Primarily grasslands, and alkaline lakebed and shoreline. Some shrubby uplands and woodland, and a small area of tame pasture (previously cultivated).|
|Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)||Birds:
|Invasive Species||Several non-native plant species are present and established, many of which were intentionally introduced for agronomic uses. Problematic species include:
|Main threats and challenges||Small size limits management options and makes the site vulnerable to surrounding landscape change. Exclusion of natural processes (fire and grazing) has resulted in declining condition of grassland habitats. Spread of non-native and invasive species.|
|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 Spiers Lake NWA, include:
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.
Environment and Climate Change Canada - Prairie Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
9250 - 49th Street NW
Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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