Widgeon Valley National Wildlife Area


Widgeon Valley National Wildlife Area (NWA) is 125 hectares (ha) in size and located near Pitt Lake, 65 kilometres (km) east of Vancouver. The Lower Fraser Valley in British Columbia has fertile bottom lands from the deposition of sediments. In addition, the area has high year-round, biological productivity caused by the mild, humid maritime climate. As a result the valley is highly attractive to wildlife and more recently very attractive for 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: the central lowland; the western upland; the stream banks; and the riverine marsh/bog. The central lowland area has a dense stand of Hardhack with accompanying grasses, forbs, rushes, reed grass and skunk cabbage. The western upland includes deciduous trees, such as Red Alder, willows, maples, and conifers, such as Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Sitka Spruce and Douglas fir. The stream banks support an upper story of Red Alder, Pacific Crabapple and 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 and horsetail.

Photo of Widgeon Valley
Photo: Widgeon Valley National Wildlife Area, landscape.

The NWA is important for its wetlands that benefit migrating waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife, fish and plant species, its wetland complex being at proximity to other adjacent and nearby areas of high wetland value such as Widgeon Slough and Addington Point along the Pitt River, the shallow southern end of Pitt Lake, and 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, and Cinnamon Teal. Pie-billed Grebes also frequent the area, and Black Scoters are seasonally abundant. Northern Pintails, Greater Scaups, Common Goldeneyes, and Bufflehead are known to overwinter in the area, as are Dunlins, Horned Grebes, and Western Grebes. Other common winter residents include the Varied Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Fox Sparrow.

A wide variety of other birds and mammals are also native to the area including resident raptors like Red-tailed Hawk and Screech Owls, rodents such as Beaver as well as numerous carnivores including the River Otter, Cougar and Bobcat.

More information is provided on Widgeon Valley NWA in the summary table below.


NWAs are protected and managed according to the Wildlife Area Regulations under the Canada Wildlife Act. The primary purpose of NWAs is the protection and conservation of wildlife and their habitat. For this purpose, and according to the legislation, Environment and Climate Change Canada can prohibit all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all activities are prohibited. Nonetheless, Environment and Climate Change Canada has the ability to authorize some activities, whether through public notice or the issuance of permits, as long as these 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 small boats, canoes or kayaks powered by oars or paddles. Canoe and kayak access to a campsite in the contiguous Pinecone Burke Provincial Park is along a channel passing through the NWA. 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. Use of small boats, canoes, or kayaks powered only by oars or paddles will be permitted if the NWA is not degraded by this activity.

More information on access and permitting for Widgeon Valley NWA 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 and roads 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. Widgeon Valley NWA can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary table

This table provides summary information on the NWA for Widgeon Valley
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) 1978 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designations None
Keystone or flagship species Fluvial lowlands with Hardhack; upland and stream banks with Red Alder, Pacific Crabapple, willows, maples, Black Cottonwood, Red Cedar, & Douglas Fir.
Main habitat type Central lowland, western upland, stream banks and riverine marsh/bog.
Listed Species under the Pacific Water Shrew, Western Toad, Great Blue Heron fannini subspecies, and Olive-sided Flycatcher
Invasive species None recorded
Additional links

Birds: Canada Goose, Mallard, Wood Duck, Cinnamon Teal, Black Scoter, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Dunlin, Horned Grebe, Western Grebe, Varied Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Fox Sparrow.

Mammals: Beaver, River Otter, Cougar, and Bobcat.

Main threats and challenges Excessive recreational access.
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Access is only permitted in tidal river channels passing through by small boats, canoes, or kayaks powered only by oars or paddles.

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.

Related documents

Contact information

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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