Widgeon Valley National Wildlife Area

Widgeon Valley National Wildlife Area (NWA), in British Columbia, provides important wetland habitat for many plants, birds, and other wildlife.

Description

Widgeon Valley NWA is 125 hectares (ha) in size. It is located near Pitt Lake, 65 kilometres (km) east of Vancouver. The Lower Fraser Valley in British Columbia has fertile bottomlands from sediments deposits. In addition, the mild, humid maritime climate of the area causes high year-round, biological productivity. As a result, the valley attracts much wildlife and more recently human recreational pursuits. The property of the Widgeon Valley NWA was purchased by the Nature Trust of British Columbia in 1973 and declared a NWA in October of that year.

Four major habitat types have been identified on the Widgeon Valley NWA:

  • central lowland
  • western upland
  • stream banks
  • riverine marsh/bog

The central lowland area has a dense stand of hardhack with accompanying:

  • grasses
  • forbs
  • rushes
  • reed grass
  • skunk cabbage
Photo of Widgeon Valley
Photo: Widgeon Valley National Wildlife Area, landscape.

The western upland includes deciduous trees and conifers, such as:

  • red alder
  • willows
  • maples
  • western red cedar
  • western hemlock
  • sitka spruce
  • douglas fir

The stream banks support shrubby vegetation, including:

  • red alder
  • pacific crabapple
  • northern black cottonwood

The outer edges of the marsh/bog habitat contain:

  • shore pine
  • labrador tea
  • blueberry
  • cranberry
  • swamp-laurel
  • marestail
  • creeping spearwort
  • mosses
  • lichens
  • horsetail

The NWA is important for its wetlands that benefit migrating waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife, fish and plant species. It’s wetland complex close to other adjacent and nearby areas of high wetland value, including:

  • Widgeon Slough and Addington Point along the Pitt River
  • the shallow southern end of Pitt Lake
  • the extensive dyked wet areas of the Pitt Meadows

As such, the NWA plays a significant role as a staging and wintering area for migrating birds of the Pacific Flyway. In general, the NWA is known to be important to:

  • Canadian geese
  • mallard
  • wood duck
  • cinnamon teal

Pie-billed Grebes also frequent the area, and Black Scoters are seasonally abundant.

Birds known to overwinter in the area include:

  • northern pintails
  • greater scaups
  • common goldeneyes
  • bufflehead
  • dunlins
  • horned grebes
  • western grebes

Other common winter residents include the varied thrush, ruby-crowned kinglet, and fox sparrow.

Image of a Western toad within grass
Western toad

A wide variety of other wildlife are also native to the area including:

  • resident raptors like:
    • red-tailed hawk
    • screech owls
  • rodents such as beaver
  • reptiles such as the western toad
  • carnivores including:
    • river otter
    • cougar
    • bobcat

More information is provided on Widgeon Valley 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 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.

The Widgeon Valley NWA is managed to maintain the wetlands for the benefit of wildlife. The basic management strategy permits, as appropriate, human intervention to achieve desired wildlife management objectives and obtain optimum habitat diversity for the benefit of wetland-dependent species.

Access to the Widgeon NWA is only permitted in the tidal river channels passing through the NWA by oar or paddle powered:

  • canoes
  • kayaks
  • small boats

Canoe and kayak access to a campsite in the contiguous Pinecone Burke Provincial Park is along a channel passing through the NWA. Use of non-motorized boats will only be permitted if the NWA is not degraded by this activity. Public notices listing the authorized activities in the wildlife area are posted at access points. For some types of activities, additional federal or provincial permits may be required.

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

Map of the area

Map of Widgeon Valley, please see long description
  • Long description

    Map showing the area near where Pitt River and Pitt Lake meet in southwestern British Columbia. The boundaries of the Widgeon Valley NWA are indicated. The protected area covers land to the north of Pitt River and Siwash Island and west of Pitt Lake. Multiple small tributaries flow through the wildlife area. The scale on the map is in km. Permanent water 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 British Columbia
Latitude/longitude 49°21' North / 122°38' West
Size 125 ha
Reason for creation of protected area Maintain a wetland for the benefit of migratory birds and other wildlife.
Date created (Gazetted) 1973 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Strict Nature Reserve (Ia)
Additional designations None
Keystone or flagship species

Fluvial lowlands with hardhack.

Upland and stream banks with:

Main habitat type
  • central lowland
  • western upland
  • stream banks
  • riverine marsh/bog
Species at Risk
Invasive species None
Other species Birds: Mammals:
Main threats and challenges Excessive recreational access.
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Access to the Widgeon NWA is only permitted in the tidal river channels passing through the NWA by oar or paddle powered:
  • canoes
  • kayaks
  • small boats

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 - Pacific and Yukon Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas and Stewardship Unit
5421 Robertson Road
Delta BC V4K 3N2

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

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