Stalwart National Wildlife Area

Stalwart National Wildlife Area (NWA) in Saskatchewan has many bird, mammal and amphibian species.

Description

Stalwart NWA lies along the west side of Last Mountain Lake, midway between Saskatoon and Regina within the Moist Mixed Grass ecoregion. Consisting of 1,250 hectares of land, over 600 hectares is managed wetland habitat used primarily by marsh birds for breeding and staging. This NWA was designated in 1969 to protect the marshes and adjacent uplands from agricultural encroachment.

Stalwart National Wildlife Area. Photo: Kerry Hecker
 

Municipal roads divide the wetland complex into three units: north, centre and south. Surrounded by undulating to gently rolling grasslands, a total of 50 nesting islands constructed by Ducks Unlimited Canada are distributed throughout the area.  It is an important spring and fall staging area for:

  • ducks
  • geese
  • shorebirds
  • songbirds

Water levels in the units of the marsh are largely dependent on small streams fed by winter snowmelt in the surrounding watershed. A stream diversion and dam leading to the centre unit provides additional spring runoff water to the marsh.

There is a dam on the outlet of the south unit which helps increase the duration of water retention over the summer and during years of drought. The uneven shape of the marsh and islands within it results in a high shoreline-to-area ratio.

The large wetlands are dominated by beds of:

  • bulrush
  • cattail
  • reeds
  • whitetop

Two small and highly saline basins with salt encrusted bottoms support very little vegetation. Sunken areas known as salt flats have plants such as:

  • baltic rush
  • seablite
  • summer cypress
  • wild barley

The uplands consist of grasslands dominated by smooth brome and alfalfa. They were seeded on formerly cultivated lands or have invaded formerly native grasslands.

Over 115 bird species including thousands of ducks and geese have been observed on this NWA. The north and center units are excellent breeding marshes for diving ducks (redheads and canvasbacks) and Canada geese breed commonly throughout the marshes.

Birds that nest within these marshes include:

  • terns
  • rails
  • grebes
  • coots
  • marsh wrens

Several sparrow species nest in the grasslands. Birds that use the tree and shrub cover for nesting include:

  • kingbirds
  • warblers
  • thrashers
  • vireos
  • orioles

The most abundant mammals in this area are:

  • muskrats
  • pocket gophers
  • ground squirrels
  • meadow voles
  • mice

Other mammals also use the area such as:

  • jackrabbits
  • skunks
  • mule and white-tailed deer
     
Northern leopard frog
 

The wetlands also serve as a breeding site for amphibians including:

  • tiger salamander
  • leopard frog
  • boreal chorus frog

More information is provided on Stalwart 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 protection 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 Stalwart NWA is not restricted and the activities that may be permitted are noted in public notices posted at access points to the area. Management focuses on water level manipulation to sustain varied wetland habitats for wildlife through natural periods of drought or dry weather. Maintenance of water level control structures is accomplished through cooperative arrangements with Ducks Unlimited Canada. Muskrat and beaver trapping and haying of upland cover is managed through Canadian Wildlife Service.

Although few people use this NWA for bird watching, photography or nature study, it provides opportunities for wildlife-oriented public activities which complement the conservation objectives for the area. Some waterfowl hunting and muskrat or beaver trapping may be allowed, but only under specific conditions.

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

Map of the area

Long description

Map showing the area near Stalwart in south-central Saskatchewan and indicating the boundaries. Located to the east of Highway 2 and west of Last Mountain Lake, it covers land as well as both permanent and intermittent bodies of water. 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 situates the NWA in Canada.

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

Summary table

Category Information
Protected area designation NWA
Province/territory Saskatchewan
Latitude/longitude 51°15' North / 105°25' West
Size 1,250 ha
Reason for creation of protected area To enhance and protect a wetland habitat for waterfowl, insulated from threats of drainage by human activity or drought.
Date created (Gazetted) 1969 - Legal Description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)Management Category Habitat / Species Management Area (IV)
Additional designations None
Keystone or flagship species Muskrat.
Main habitat type
  • Wetland (40 %)
  • Grassland (60 %)
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)
Invasive species
  • smooth brome
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • sweet clover
  • quack grass
  • alfalfa
Other species

Birds:

Mammals:

Amphibians:

  • boreal chorus frog
Main threats and challenges
  • Agricultural land uses in the watershed that affect water quantity and quality in the recipient marshes.
  • Alien invasive species altering the structure of upland cover may reduce the abundance of some wildlife.
Management agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Access is not prohibited. Primary usage is for waterfowl hunting in fall.

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 - Prairie and Northern Region

Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship Unit
115 Perimeter Road
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7N 0X4

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

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