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What's Here in the Fall? - Fraser River Delta

During the fall, many wildlife species are making their migration south. Estuaries, such as the Fraser River delta area, provide critical food and rest sites for many birds, some of which will spend the winter before migrating north in the spring.

Boundary Bay, located in the southern portion of the delta, is an area of international importance to migrating and wintering birds. The area is known for its diversity of hawks, and is home to the largest wintering raptor population in Canada.

Large numbers of shorebirds utilize the bay on both spring and fall journeys. For example, over 1 million Western Sandpipers stop at Boundary Bay during fall migration for an average of 2 to 3 days. Therefore, in one day, it is not unusual to see tens of thousands of Western Sandpipers. Other common shorebirds include Black-bellied Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin and both species of dowitcher.

Boundary Bay is visited by large numbers of waterfowl, both divers and dabblers. Common species include Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Greater Scaup and Surf Scoter. The bay is a good area to look for Common Loon, and Horned, Red-necked and Western Grebes.

Other good fall viewing sites on the Fraser River delta include Roberts Bank, Brunswick Point, Canoe Pass, South Arm Marshes Wildlife Management Area, Alaksen National Wildlife Area, George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Sturgeon Bank and Iona Island.


Urban Salmon - New Project

The Urban Salmon Habitat Program (USHP) of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks has approved funds for the completion of several projects related to increasing the public's awareness of, and direct experience with, salmon in urban streams.

The Federation of British Columbia Naturalists Foundation has continued its support of British Columbia Wildlife Watch by sponsoring this funding application.

Specifically, funds were provided for the printing of a brochure highlighting opportunities to view salmon in urban streams, and for the development of additional fish viewing materials for the Lower Mainland Region's Wildlife Watch display and slide show.

USHP provides funds to support community stewardship projects that will help to save British Columbia salmon and salmon habitat by encouraging community involvement in protection, rehabilitation, restoration, planning and education activities. The projects completed will complement the initiatives sponsored by other agencies, such as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.


Bald Eagles - New Public Event

Planning has begun on the organization of a new public wildlife viewing event focusing on the Bald Eagles of the Harrison Bay - Kilby Provincial Park area. This event is tentatively scheduled for the first weekend in December.

For many years there have been very successful trips arranged to take members of the public to this area. The attraction was a chance to observe hundreds of Bald Eagle, many Trumpeter Swan and a range of waterfowl species.

If you or your group is interested in assisting with the planning of this event, or with on-site activities during the event, contact April Mol (Lower Mainland Regional Wildlife Viewing Coordinator) directly via e-mail.


Funding Partner - Vancouver City Savings

The Vancouver City Savings Credit Union has provided funds to the Friends of Cypress Provincial Park Society to print the new Cypress bird checklist.

This is not the first time that VanCity has supported a project completed in cooperation with British Columbia Wildlife Watch. Last year, their Community Action and Education Department approved a funding request by the Alouette Field Naturalists to print the bird checklists for Golden Ears Provincial Park and Hayward Lake Reservoir Recreation Area. Unfortunately, VanCity was omitted from the list of project funding partners printed in the last Newsletter.


New Bird Checklists

Since May, three new British Columbia Wildlife Watch bird checklists have been prepared, bringing the total number of checklists available to fourteen. Each checklist also identifies the most easily observed mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish. The new ones are (number of bird species recorded in the checklist area):

Both Porpoise Bay and Sargeant Bay Provincial Parks are located on the Sunshine Coast near Sechelt. Cypress Provincial Park is located in West Vancouver.


New Wildlife Management Area Brochures

In addition to the series of bird checklists, British Columbia WILDLIFE WATCH has prepared general and viewing information brochures for two of BC Environment's wildlife management areas (WMA), and one wildlife area (WA). These are:

In each brochure is a map of the area showing access points, parking, trails and facilities. There is a brief history of the area, a summary of the wildlife viewing highlights, and information on the access, facilities and recreation activities.

These brochures can be obtained from the Surrey office of BC Environment.


GETPARC Involved

Through cooperation with BC Parks and GETPARC, the bird checklist for Golden Ears Provincial Park is being posted on information kiosks throughout the park. The materials required are being purchased with funds provided by GETPARC, with the actual placement of the laminated checklists being done by BC Parks. This ensures that park visitors will be able to access the information even if they do not have their own copy.

GETPARC stands for Golden Ears Trail and Preservation Restoration Club. This non-profit group is made up of individuals from the community who are interested in the maintenance and upgrading of park trails. The group has representation from equestrian, hiking, mountain bike and naturalist organizations as well as from local businesses.

For more information write GETPARC c/o BC Parks, Golden Ears Provincial Park, Box 7000, Maple Ridge, B.C. V2X 7G3.


Wildlife Viewing Economics - Did You Know?

It had long been thought that people who viewed wildlife spent little on their activities, outside of a few field guides, and a pair of binoculars. However, recent studies show that, as a group, watchers of wildlife spend over 3 times as much as hunters and about 17 times that of recreational fishers.

The most recent federal-provincial survey on the importance of wildlife to Canadians confirms the popularity of non-consumptive wildlife activities. During 1991, nearly 1 in 5 Canadians (18.7%) took at least one special trip (primary wildlife-related trip) away from home in order to watch, photograph, feed or study wildlife. They devoted a total of 84.3 million days to these activities, or an average of 22 days per participant, and spent $2.4 billion on travel expenses and special equipment for these trips.

While the participation rates vary from province to province, British Columbia had the highest rate at almost 1 in 4 residents (23.5%). British Columbians spent an estimated $572 million on primary wildlife-related trips. This is an annual figure, and does not reflect monies spent by non-B.C. residents or by tourists.

The primary trips made by British Columbia residents during 1991 totalled almost 15 million days of participation. Each day of participation is estimated to result in $39 of expenditures, including transportation, accommodation, food, equipment and other items.

The interest in observing wildlife, whether in the backyard or in more natural habitats, is one of the fastest growing recreational activities.


Out and About - Slide Show

As a part of increasing the public's awareness of British Columbia Wildlife Watch, a slide show has been prepared. It contains information about the provincial viewing program, and about where and how to view our great wildlife diversity.

By request, the slide show is given to groups throughout the year. During the summer months, the one hour show is presented at evening interpretive programs in Lower Mainland Region provincial parks.

In 1996, this will include E.C. Manning, Porteau Cove, Sasquatch, Golden Ears, Alice Lake and Cultus Lake Provincial Parks. In addition, an evening show will be given at the Fraser Valley Regional District's Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park located east of Chilliwack.

The slide show is fun, informative, fast paced and full of wildlife photographs. There are usually three distinct sections, but the content can be varied to fit general areas or themes.

The first part of the show is about British Columbia Wildlife Watch, what it is, including its goals, objectives and partners, and what types of viewing sites and opportunities are part of the program.

In the middle section, participants are taken on a short trip through the province to visit a number of different sites, and to learn about some of the fun things that happen when viewing wildlife.

The focus of the last section is the viewing opportunities in the Lower Mainland Region, from Manning to Vancouver, Squamish to D'Arcy, and on the Sunshine Coast.

If you are interested in arranging a presentation, contact Betsy Terpsma at the BC Environment office in Surrey.


At Your Event? - Display

Over the past two years, the British Columbia Wildlife Watch display has been at many special events, especially ones that focus on viewing wildlife, such as the Snow Goose Festival, the Return of the Osprey Festival, the Coho Festival, and Sex on the Rocks (a fish event at Kanaka Creek Regional Park).

To increase awareness of the program, and about where to view wildlife, the display has been at events staged at wildlife viewing sites where the primary focus may not be wildlife related. This includes the annual Fraser River Festival, the Country Celebration (a fall event at Campbell Valley Regional Park) and the Turkey Trek (Minnekhada Regional Park).

Included on the display is a map of the Lower Mainland Region showing the location of over 75 sites for observing fish and wildlife.

If you are involved in the organization of a special event and would like to have the viewing display, contact Betsy Terpsma at the BC Environment office in Surrey.


Where to View Salmon

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans' recently revised Where and When to See Salmon pamphlet is now available! It contains information on 54 sites throughout the province, primarily hatcheries, spawning channels and fishways, where the public is invited to see salmon and sea-run trout. For a copy write Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Habitat and Enhancement Branch, #400-555 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 5G3.


Lang Creek Viewing - Sunshine Coast

Located on the Sunshine Coast just south of Powell River, the habitats in and along Lang Creek provide a variety of viewing opportunities.

Highway 101 crosses the creek at the end of a large tidal estuary. A diversity of waterfowl species utilize the estuary. During the late summer and fall months, coho, chinook, pink and chum salmon move through the estuary and into Lang Creek. The fish attract a large number of Bald Eagles into the general area, especially the estuary.

Once in the creek, the salmon encounter a counting fence, part of the facilities operating by the Powell River Enhancement Society (7050 Alberni Street, Powell River, B.C. V8A 2C3). The number of each species is counted. Some are used for hatchery breeding stock, some are directed into a man-made spawning channel, and the rest are released to continue their migration up Lang Creek.

There are approximately 8 kilometres of creek habitat available for spawning, stretching from the hatchery to the base of Lang Creek falls. This series of falls prevents upstream migration into Duck Lake. However, many salmon do attempt to jump the falls, and this is easily observed from a BC Forest Service recreation site (Ministry of Forests, Sunshine Coast District, 7077 Duncan Street, Powell River, B.C. V8A 1W1).

The Lang Creek Forest Service Recreation Site is located at the falls on the west side of the creek. It is accessed via a 3 kilometre (round-trip) trail with moderate grades that begins along Duck Lake Road. This rich forest area is home to many birds including Winter Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch and several woodpecker species.


Habitat Conservation Fund - What is it?

The Habitat Conservation Fund (HCF), administered by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, plays a key role in the enhancement of British Columbia's fish and wildlife populations, and their habitats. Since its beginning in 1981, the Fund has undertaken hundreds of fish and wildlife projects across the province, and has financed the purchase of large areas of land from private owners to preserve important habitat.

Effective conservation and enhancement requires sufficient funding, and making the most of every dollar spent. Revenue for the Habitat Conservation Fund comes from:

  • a surcharge on all hunting, angling, guiding and trapping licences issued in the province,
  • donations, bequests and gifts from corporations, naturalists, conservation organizations and private citizens, and
  • compensation from companies for impacts on fish and wildlife habitat due to development.

All proceeds from HCF, including interest, are reinvested in enhancement and acquisition projects.

Projects are selected by the Fund's volunteer Public Advisory Board from detailed proposals submitted by government, conservation organizations and private industry. The Board, made up of knowledgeable conservationists, evaluates project proposals on the basis of technical merit and public demand. New projects are selected each year, and quality control is assured by reviewing progress reports before allocating additional funding for ongoing projects. The Minister gives final project approval.

Since 1981, HCF has spent approximately $30 million to fund more than 1,400 conservation projects throughout the province. For the 1996/1997 fiscal year, 154 projects were endorsed by the Board totalling a record $4.9 million. The following are only a sample of the range of approved projects. The region(s) in which the activities will be carried out is shown in brackets.

Fisheries

  • study threatened white sturgeon throughout the Fraser watershed (provincial)
  • remove debris jams threatening passage into Nahmint Lake, and place a log boom to prevent future debris build-ups (Vancouver Island)
  • study endangered Salish Sucker and Nooksack Dace (Lower Mainland)
  • conduct DNA studies and other work to support steelhead in the Thompson River (Thompson-Nicola)
  • study bull trout in the Wigwam River near Cranbrook, and develop conservation strategies (Kootenay)
  • develop and implement an assessment program for Bella Coola Steelhead (Cariboo)
  • study threatened giant pygmy whitefish in Tyhee Lake and other lakes near Smithers (Skeena)
  • support the Okanagan Lake action plan to rebuild and maintain Kokanee stocks (Okanagan)

Wildlife

  • analyse data to complete the final volume of 'Birds of British Columbia' (provincial)
  • support the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy, helping to support ecosystem-based management, establish new inventory methods, prevent bear problems with garbage, and protect vulnerable
  • survey 10 species of dragonflies at risk on the Island and Gulf Islands (Vancouver Island)
  • survey endangered Northern Leopard Frog and Columbia Spotted Frog, and initiate assessment of 26 other species at risk (Lower Mainland)
  • install fencing around key riparian/grassland habitat areas near Tunkwa Lake (Thompson-Nicola)
  • study Wolverines from Revelstoke to Golden (Kootenay)
  • map important grassland habitats south of Williams Lake (Cariboo)
  • study vegetation at Delkatla Inlet in Masset following a habitat restoration project (Skeena)
  • study endangered bat species in the upper Liard River (Omineca/Peace)
  • monitor Vaseux bighorn herd, encourage private land stewardship and conduct other studies in the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys (Okanagan)

The Habitat Conservation Fund owes much of its success to public participation. For this reason, tax deductible donations, and suggestions for enhancement projects are always welcome from individuals, corporations, sportsmen's groups, and naturalist and conservation organizations. To contribute to the Fund, to suggest ideas, or for more information write Habitat Conservation Fund, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4.


Bird Tracks

Iona Beach Regional Park

    This Greater Vancouver Regional District park is located on Iona Island, immediately northwest of Sea Island. Over 277 bird species have been recorded for the area, due primarily to its unique combination of marine and freshwater habitats, including extensive intertidal foreshore areas. The park is one of the best locations to view the common shorebirds, and to search for rare and vagrant species. Access to the park is from Bridgeport Road in Richmond. A British Columbia Wildlife Watch bird checklist is available for the area, and a park specific brochure can be obtained from the GVRD Parks Department.

George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

    The Sanctuary, part of the Alaksen National Wildlife Area, is located on Westham Island in Delta. There is a series of trails located throughout, and many viewing blinds and towers provide very good opportunities to view wildlife in a wide range of habitats. The site is operated by the British Columbia Waterfowl Society, and is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. There is an admission charge for non-members. The annual Snow Goose Festival is held in November, with activities focused at the Sanctuary. A British Columbia Wildlife Watch bird checklist is available for the area.

Maplewood Flats

    This site is located on Burrard Inlet off Dollarton Highway about 2 kilometres east of the Second Narrows bridge in North Vancouver. Through ongoing management by the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia, many habitat enhancement projects have been completed. There is a wheelchair accessible trail on the upland portion of the area, and a viewing blind provides excellent views of the tidal flat area. Just over 200 bird species have been recorded for the refuge, and several mammal species may be seen, including Harbour Seal. A British Columbia Wildlife Watch bird checklist is available. The first annual Return of the Osprey Festival was held this past May. Next year's Festival is planned for early May.