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Detailed Map    note - this may take some time to load!!
General Information
Brief History
Access and Facilities
Recreation
Viewing Highlights

There is a series of wildlife management area brochures.



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   General Information

The South Arm Marshes Wildlife Management Area (SAMWMA) contains 937 hectares (2316 acres) of habitats critically important to fish and wildlife populations. It was officially designated on May 31, 1991. SAMWMA is managed by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks to protect the natural features and to maintain the biological productivity of the existing habitats.

The management area contains a series of islands surrounded by both freshwater and intertidal marshes. Included in SAMWMA are Ladner Marsh, Ladner Lagoon and seven main islands - Woodward, Barber, Duck, Kirkland, Rose, Gunn and Williamson. Private property still exists on Frenchies Island which is excluded from the management area. SAMWMA is located directly east of Alaksen National Wildlife Area and the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

For additional information on this management area contact the Ministry office in Surrey [(604) 582-5200; 10470 - 152nd Street, Surrey, B.C. V3R 0Y3].

Ecological Importance

    The Fraser River estuary is the single most important area of aquatic bird and raptor migration and wintering habitat in British Columbia. The South Arm Marshes Wildlife Management Area provides wintering, migration and breeding habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and many passerine species. In addition, the intertidal marshes provide critical rearing areas for juvenile salmon.

    Historically, more than 70% of the natural habitat in the Fraser River estuary has been lost to dyking. The islands and marshes of SAMWMA contain an estimated 25% of the remaining estuary marsh habitat. As these habitats continue to be lost to, or impacted by, urban development, this management area becomes increasingly more important as wildlife and fish habitat.



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   Brief History

Despite the importance of SAMWMA habitats, the area has not been free of human activities. Remnant pilings at the west end of Duck Island mark the location of an old fish cannery. Before completion of the George Massey Tunnel in 1959, access across the Fraser River between Richmond and Delta was by car ferry. The Delta dock was at the north end of Ferry Road. The 3.7 km Woodward Training Wall was originally constructed from 1922 to 1928, with a major extension added in the mid 1930's. Its purpose is to stabilize the south bank of the Fraser River by preventing migration of the navigational channel.

Acquisition

    Much of the area was privately owned and land purchases were required before SAMWMA could be formally designated. Ladner Marsh was acquired in the late 1970's under an agreement between Environment Canada and BC Environment. Four of the five dyked islands adjoining Ladner Reach were then purchased by the Pacific Estuary Conservation Program.

Enhancement

    Many habitat enhancement projects have been completed in Ladner Marsh. In the 1980's, the Ladner sewage lagoon was converted into fish rearing habitat by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans through the breaching of the perimeter dyke. A few nesting islands were also constructed in the lagoon to promote waterfowl use. A series of ponds were excavated in 1991 as a unique system to treat storm water runoff from the residential development east of Ferry Road. A 1993 Habitat Conservation Trust Fund project resulted in new channels in the marsh to improve tidal circulation.

    Ducks Unlimited Canada dyking improvements allow farming for wildlife, and provide additional slough and riparian habitats. These improvements were funded by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan through the Pacific Coast Joint Venture.



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   Access and Facilities

To access this site while southbound on Highway 99, take the River Road exit just south of the Massey Tunnel and continue to Ferry Road. Access while northbound on Highway 99 is via Highway 17 (turn south) and then west onto Ladner Trunk Road (Highway 10). Continue on Ladner Trunk Road to downtown ladner and turn right onto Elliott Road, and finally right onto Ferry Road. There is water access to SAMWMA from the Fraser River.

Lander Marsh has a loop trail on the west side of Ferry Road along the banks of the storm water treatment marsh. The west end of the trail has a short boardwalk and covered viewing tower which provides excellent views of the surrounding area. Ladner Lagoon has a dyke top trail around the east and north perimeter which connects with Ladner Harbour Park on the west.

Do not leave valuables or personal items in your vehicle.



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   Recreation

A number of recreational activities are permitted within a significant portion of the management area, including walking, wildlife viewing, nature study, fishing, canoeing, boating and waterfowl hunting (consult the provincial hunting and trapping regulations for details). Pets must be kept on a leash at all times. Rose, Kirkland, Gunn and Williamson Islands are actively farmed to provide food for wildlife. Consequently, public access to these four islands is restricted.


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   Viewing Highlights

The South Arm Marshes Wildlife Management Area (SAMWMA) is an excellent area to observe a wide range of wildlife species throughout the year.

These are just some of the viewing highlights.

  • Loons and Grebes - The waters of SAMWMA are frequented by a number of loon and grebe species, especially during spring and fall migrations. The most easily observed are the Common Loon, Red-throated Loon, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe and Western Grebe.

  • Great Blue Heron - Herons are easily seen throughout the year.

  • Waterfowl - While SAMWMA provides year-round habitat for many waterfowl species, the largest concentrations are observed during the spring and fall migrations. The most common species include Mallard, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal and American Wigeon. Snow Goose are present in large numbers on the west portion of the area in March and April.

  • Bald Eagle - The Ladner Harbour Park area and the north end of Ladner Marsh are excellent sites to view eagles. A number of Bald Eagles nest nearby in the Fraser River estuary.

  • Hawks - This area is used by many hawk species, including Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper's Hawk.

  • Falcons - Peregrine Falcon can be observed hunting shorebirds and waterfowl.

  • Shorebirds - During low tides, the mud flats and marsh areas are frequented by shorebirds, especially during the migration periods.

  • Songbirds - Passerine species may be observed throughout the year. The greatest diversity of songbirds occurs in late spring and through the summer. Easily observed are the Marsh Wren, Red-winged Blackbird and Song Sparrow.

  • Mammals - The marshes of SAMWMA are home to both Beaver and Muskrat. Coyotes, Raccoons and Mink may also be seen on occasion.

  • Seals and Sea Lions - The channels of the Fraser River are frequented by Harbour Seal throughout the year, and in the spring by California Sea Lions. These species are most visible during fish runs.