Lake Saint-François National Wildlife Area Management Plan

Executive summary

Lake Saint-François National Wildlife Area (NWA) was created in 1978 to protect a series of marshes and swamps unique to Quebec that support diverse plant and animal species, including rare species. It is a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention and an Important Bird Area. Today, the NWA protects exceptional wetlands and other habitats for the conservation of species at risk and priority bird species.

The NWA covers 1 316 hectares on the south shore of Lake Saint-François, a natural widening of the St. Lawrence River in southwestern Quebec, near the border with Ontario and the United States. It is made up of a mosaic of wetland and upland habitats, including sedge and cattail marshes, wooded swamps populated by Red Maple stands, and well-drained dry woods featuring communities dominated by hawthorn, hickory and Sugar Maple. The biodiversity of the NWA is among the most remarkable in Quebec, since it is home to more than 293 animal species and 547 plant species, including at least 15 species at risk under the Species at Risk Act and 46 designated threatened or vulnerable species or species likely to be so designated under provincial legislation.

Thirteen species of waterfowl, including the Canada Goose, the Mallard, the American Black Duck, the Wood Duck and the Lesser Scaup, nest in the NWA. The marshes and adjacent openwater areas are used by more than 5 000 ducks in the spring and by more than 8 000 ducks during the fall migration. Of the 237 listed bird species, many landbirds and waterbirds nest in the NWA, including the Northern Waterthrush, the Veery and the Sandhill Crane. The NWA is also home to one of the largest Sedge Wren populations in Canada. The Four-toed Salamander, the Blanding’s Turtle and the Snapping Turtle are among the amphibians and reptiles observed here. The Muskrat, the Meadow Jumping Mouse, the Big Brown Bat, the Beaver, the White-tailed Deer and the Coyote are some of the mammal species present. The site is also an important habitat for species at risk in the region, such as the Yellow Rail, the Map Turtle and the Butternut.

The NWA is facing major threats and management challenges relating to its proximity to many human activities. The main threats and challenges are the impact of human activities on the NWA, the fragmented nature of the NWA, invasion by plant species, habitat and infrastructure degradation, and the development of the surrounding land.

Access to the NWA is restricted to designated areas and at certain times of year, from April to December. Some activities are permitted as long as they are consistent with the conservation goals and objectives of the management plan.

The goals of the management plan are to: 1) protect and enhance significant habitats for species at risk, priority bird species and other wildlife species; 2) consolidate the NWA and promote natural habitat conservation on adjacent land in order to foster connectivity and improve ecological conditions; 3) minimize negative impact related to human activities on the NWA; 4) provide opportunities for Canadians to connect to nature and raise awareness among the public and local communities of the conservation of the NWA, wildlife species and their habitats; and 5) ensure ecological monitoring of the NWA and improve knowledge on wildlife species and their habitats.

The management plan will be implemented over a 10-year horizon in accordance with priorities and available resources.

For greater certainty, nothing in this management plan shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

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