Columbia Wetlands

“One of the most precious things on a world scale…is the Columbia River Wetlands.” Robert Bateman

The Columbia Wetlands are one of the world’s living natural treasures and as such, they have been recognized as a Ramsar site, a wetlands of international importance. With more than 260 bird species recorded, as well as numerous fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals species and countless invertebrates, the Columbia Wetlands is a hotspot of biodiversity.  Nestled between British Columbia’s Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges, these wetlands are the source of the largest river flowing into the Pacific Ocean in North America—the mighty Columbia. It is here in our own wild backyard that everything begins.

These wetlands provide essential winter habitat for hundreds of elk and deer. Moose, wolf, cougar, coyote, beaver, river otter and grizzly bears are just some of the larger mammals that call this place home.

It is ours to treasure, ours to protect.

CW6_Pat MorrowPat Morrow

HISTORY OF PROTECTION

In 1996, Columbia Valley local residents and government agencies came together, agreeing that the stretch of the Columbia River and wetlands from Donald in the north to Fairmont in the south should be protected for wildlife. A Wildlife Management Area was established, protecting wildlife under the BC Wildlife Act throughout the entire 180-kilometre stretch. Recreational and historical uses — fishing, hunting and trapping — would continue, but under an innovative philosophy that places wildlife and habitat values first.

On June 5, 2005, World Environment Day, the Columbia Wetlands received much deserved international recognition as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance thanks to the work of Wildsight and others. The largest wetland of its kind in British Columbia and protected under the BC Wildlife Act, the Columbia Wetlands qualified under all eight Ramsar Criteria and comprise a regionally unparalleled diversity of 16 habitats, sheltering around 216 species.

Over the past 20 years, Wildsight and the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations have been co-applicants for federal boating regulations on the Columbia Wetlands and River through the Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area (CWWMA).

On June 28, 2008, a package of amendments to the boating regulations was published in Part I of the Canada Gazette, containing proposed amendments to the Regulations which would control the navigation of vessels in the Columbia River and Wetlands between Fairmont Hot Springs and Donald Station (north-west of Golden), BC in order to protect environmental values.

Two of these regulations became law, August 19, 2009:

  1. A year-round prohibition on the operation of power-driven vessels in the wetlands of the Columbia River.
  2. A year-round prohibition on towing persons on water skis, surfboards or other similar equipment in the main channel of the Columbia River at any time.

In 2016, the third part of the boating regulation, limiting boats to 20hp on the upper Columbia River, between Fairmont Hot Springs and Donald (excluding Lake Windermere) was enacted!

Thank you for helping us make this all happen. 

 


Conservation news

Exclusion fencing, wildlife underpasses and ungulates guards are helping to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions in the Elk Valley.Read more 
From May 15 to June 14, the public can have a say about Wildsight’s request for an environmental assessment on the proposed Record Ridge industrial mineral mine, near Rossland, B.C.Read more 
Born and raised in Golden, Brian Gustafson grew up hunting with his dad, mountain biking, kayaking and playing hockey. During winter drives to Invermere for hockey games, he remembers seeing herds of hundreds of Elk. Now, he says, he's lucky to see herds of 30 to 50 animals. Read more 
In this presentation to the Columbia Shuswap Regional Distract (CSRD), ecologist Dr Rachel Holt addresses misinformation about the relationship between wildfires and old growth forests in British Columbia.Read more 
It’s official: B.C’s annual April snow survey confirms this winter is leaving our province with its lowest snowpack on record at just…Read more 
We’re fighting to ensure Teck and Glencore are held to account for the environmental damage caused by the Elk Valley coal mines. Your gift will support our work pressuring politicians to make these polluters pay, so our wild waters are kept cleaner for future generations.Read more 
Read more news

Join The Team

Want to protect wildlife, clean water and wild spaces? Volunteer with us! Wildsight volunteers are a very special group of people who give generously of their time to stuff envelopes, attend rallies, help run events, put up posters, keep tabs on forestry practices in their communities and participate in citizen science initiatives.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES