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Ecosystem/Kootenay Lake
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What is a Red-Listed Species?
According to the British Columbia Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, the Kootenay River white sturgeon has been “Red-listed” as a critically imperiled species, requiring urgent attention to prevent its extinction. The British Columbia government maintains a species listing that sorts species into groups with similar conservation risks.

--The Red List includes species that have been legally designated as “endangered” or “threatened” under the Wildlife Act, are extirpated, or are candidates for such designation.

--The Blue List includes species not immediately threatened, but of concern because of characteristics that make them particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events. (The bull trout is Blue-listed in the Kootenay region.)

--The Yellow List includes all other species, with a special “Watch List S4” designation for those that are perceived to be under long-term threat.

Wetland Wonder: The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area

The natural world of the Kootenay watershed reaches heights of biodiversity and productivity in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, located near the community of Creston, just south of Kootenay Lake. The protected area includes Duck Lake and the marshy delta of the Kootenay River as it enters the South Arm of Kootenay Lake. It features:

• More than 17,000 hectares of wetland stretching from the south end of Kootenay Lake to the United States border.
• One of the most important waterbird habitats in British Columbia.
• The only breeding location of the Forster’s Tern.
• British Columbia’s largest interior Great Blue Heron colony.
• One of Canada’s densest Osprey populations.
• The last remaining refuge of the Northern Leopard Frog in B.C.
• Designations as a Ramsar* site and an Important Bird Area (IBA)**.

With its combination of natural wetlands and dyked marshes, the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area provides optimal habitat for 250 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, 30 reptile and amphibian species, thousands of invertebrate species and several hundred species of plants.

As part of the Pacific Flyway, the area is one of British Columbia’s most significant waterbird habitats, supporting over 100,000 birds during migration. Up to 6,000 Tundra Swans – representing 3% of the North American population – pass through the wetland each spring, as do more than 20,000 American Coots (about 1.5% of the global population).

The site also supports 1 of only 3 breeding colonies of Western Grebes in British Columbia, a non-breeding population of American White Pelicans, a winter concentration of more than 100 Rough-legged Hawks, and a large number of Black Terns.

The protected area is also noted for its provincially significant populations of the Red-listed White Sturgeon (see “Saving the Kootenay River Sturgeon” and “Kootenay River White Sturgeon: Key Facts,”) , the Blue-listed Red-tailed Chipmunk and the Red-listed Coeur d’Alene Salamander. (For a description of British Columbia’s colour-coded wildlife listing system, see “What is a Red-listed Species?”).

Visit the Creston Valley Wildlife Center
Follow the boardwalk trail to a 3-storey birding tower to look for some of the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area’s 265 species of birds. The Area’s Wildlife Interpretation Centre, located approximately 11 kilometres east of the town of Creston on Highway 3, features a hand-on display hall, naturalist-led nature programs, a nature film theatre, and a picnic area surrounded by swooping swallows. Short, guided canoe tours are also available. The Center is open year-round.
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