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Fish are Wildlife Too! - New Sites Signed

British Columbia Wildlife Watch, in cooperation with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Habitat and Enhancement Branch, is signing fourteen Lower Mainland fish hatcheries and spawning channels with the binocular logo.

The identification of these facilities as viewing sites recognizes not only the fish viewing opportunities present at, or near, most of the facilities, but also the educational values of these sites.

The signing of these sites also involves the cooperation of several local societies, groups and Indian Bands that are contracted to manage specific facilities, and of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) Parks Department, as four of the hatcheries are located in regional parks.

Six of these facilities are operated by DFO:

All of these DFO facilities are usually open daily, and each site has information signs to explain the activities that occur at the facility.

The management of the remaining facilities is contracted to local societies, groups and Indian Bands. These are:

There are many other hatchery and spawning channel sites in the Lower Mainland Region that may be identified as viewing sites in the near future.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has a pamphlet called Where and When to See Salmon. This publication has just been revised. When printed, this pamphlet will include the British Columbia Wildlife Watch logo, some general program information, and the Victoria contact address and phone number.

For specific information on DFO's hatcheries and spawning sites in British Columbia write Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Habitat and Enhancement Branch, #400-555 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 5G3.

Program Continues - 1996-1997 Funding

Funding for the 1996-1997 fiscal year has been secured from the Habitat Conservation Fund. Just under $18,000 will go to the Federation of British Columbia Naturalists Foundation for the continuation of the British Columbia Wildlife Watch program in the Lower Mainland Region. While this will be a reduction in the current level of activity, watch for the logo signing of more sites, and for the printing of many new brochures.

Recreation Sites - Forest Renewal BC

Project funds were obtained from Forest Renewal British Columbia (FRBC) to complete an evaluation of the wildlife viewing opportunities at some of the Forest Service recreation sites located in the Lower Mainland. There are almost 90 recreation sites and about 60 trails in the Chilliwack, Sunshine Coast and Squamish Forest Districts.

The 13 kilometre Inland Lake Trail System near Powell River is completely wheelchair accessible, and is an excellent example of a forest recreation trail that provides viewing opportunities. (Editor's Note - This site is now Inland Lake Provincial Park.)

The FRBC funds will also be used to prepare a draft wildlife viewing brochure for the Lower Mainland Region, similar in format to brochures already printed for several other BC Environment regions.

Trout Hatchery - Interpretive Centre

Located in Abbotsford, just north of the Canadian border off Highway 11, is the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery. This facility, one of five trout hatcheries in British Columbia, is managed by BC Environment. The Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery (FVTH) raises domestic and native Rainbow Trout, anadromous and Coastal Cutthroat Trout, and Steelhead Trout.

FVTH has a large interpretive centre that is open to the public. There are interactive displays and computer games, and a spacious theatre for slide shows and films. The displays trace the life cycle of fish, and journey through a living stream featuring many species of freshwater fish. In one room of the centre there is a large tank that demonstrates what natural habitat looks like. Several different fish species inhabit this area. In one corner of the display is a life-sized beaver lodge that visitors can enter and view the Beaver's lodge entrance and insides.

In addition to the inside displays, and a view of the fry-rearing area, there is an outside path that passes many of the large outdoor rearing ponds.

During 1995, FVTH was signed as a viewing site, even though there are no on-site opportunities to view spawning fish. The interpretive centre provides valuable information on fish habitats, and how visitors can assist in maintaining and in enhancing these critical habitats. There is even one large panel display about wildlife viewing opportunities located throughout British Columbia.

Groups may pre-book a tour with one of the facility's interpreters. If you want more information, write the hatchery at 34345 Vye Road, Abbotsford, B.C. V2S 4N2 or phone (604) 852-5388.

The other trout hatcheries are the Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery in Duncan, the Loon Creek Trout Hatchery north of Cache Creek, the Kootenay Trout Hatchery southeast of Cranbrook, and the Summerland Trout Hatchery north of Penticton. All are open to the public, and, with the exception of Loon Creek, have an interpretive centre.

Newsletter - Your Input Requested

So many new sites are being identified for wildlife viewing, new project-specific funds are being secured, and new brochures are being produced, that it seems like a good idea to provide a quarterly update. Initially, this update will be distributed to all of the agencies, organizations, groups and individuals that have been involved in projects completed or in-progress in the Lower Mainland Region. Some copies will be made available at events attended by British Columbia Wildlife Watch.

In future editions of this newsletter, you will discover which viewing sites are being identified with the program's binocular logo, and what site-specific projects are complete, in-progress or in the planning stages.

Several Lower Mainland viewing sites will be highlighted in each issue. These short 'shorebird tracks' articles will tell you a little bit about one of the Region's viewing sites.

If you would like to see certain topics covered in this publication, to suggest an idea for a short article about your favourite viewing site (not just in the Lower Mainland Region), or to comment on information contained in this publication, please contact April L. Mol, Lower Mainland Regional Coordinator, c/o Environment and Lands, 10470 - 152nd Street, Surrey, B.C. V3R 0Y3.

Viewing Sites - Provincial Parks

The provincial parks in the Lower Mainland Region are divided into three BC Parks Districts, Garibaldi/Sunshine, Vancouver, and Fraser Valley. Through cooperation with the Districts, at least one park in each District has been signed as a wildlife viewing site.

Vancouver District

    Rolley Lake Provincial Park in Mission has been signed as a viewing site, with the small logo signs added to existing park directional signs. A new bird checklist was printed with funds provided by BC Parks. The information for the checklist was based on years of observations made primarily by naturalist Al Grass. In addition to the list of 90 bird species, the 'other wildlife' section outlines the best mammal viewing opportunities. The checklist will be posted on all of the main kiosks by this summer.
    The old bird checklist for Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge dated back to 1983. Again with the assistance of Al Grass, a new checklist was compiled and printed. While birds can be found throughout the park, there is a panel with recommended birding areas, such as Mike Lake and the Spirea Nature Trail. There are 137 bird species listed for this park. The 'other wildlife' section notes the most easily viewed mammal species, as well as a caution about the presence of black bears. This checklist was printed with funds obtained by the Alouette Field Naturalists from the Vancouver City Savings Credit Union.
    At the present time, Cypress Provincial Park is being looked at for identification as a viewing site, particularly the Yew Lake area. A formal bird checklist may be prepared for this area.

Fraser Valley District

    E.C. Manning Provincial Park has long been recognized as a great place to view wildlife. Within the park, highway binocular logo signs have been placed at the Beaver Pond.
    Many people are only just discovering that the Harrison Bay area east of Mission offers excellent Bald Eagle viewing from mid November through January. Kilby Provincial Park is located on Harrison Bay, and highway binocular signs are in place to direct visitors to this site. Several years ago, BC Parks installed two interpretive signs about the eagles, swans, waterfowl and fish that are present in this area.
    Also located in this District is Sasquatch Provincial Park, just northeast of Harrison Hot Springs. This park offers good bird viewing in a variety of habitats, Mountain Goat on nearby cliffs, as well as frog choruses. In the future, this park may be signed as a viewing site.

Garibaldi/Sunshine District

    This park District includes the Horseshoe Bay, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton corridor, and the Gibsons to Powell River area. Many people do not realize that the Garibaldi/Sunshine area is part of BC Environment's Lower Mainland Region.
    Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park is located 55 kilometres northeast of Pemberton. There is some Mountain Goat viewing on the rocky bluffs next to the park. Bird viewing is quite good, and Phelix Creek, which runs through the campground and into the lake, is a major spawning site for the land-locked salmon called Kokanee. Highway directional signs are in place, and BC Parks has a small viewing guide for the park.
    The Sunshine Coast offers excellent viewing opportunities, especially for birds and spawning salmon. Porpoise Bay Provincial Park is located just north of Sechelt on Sechelt Inlet. The park includes a variety of habitats, including marine foreshore, stream and forest. Angus Creek has a large Chum Salmon run in the fall. With the assistance of the Sunshine Coast Natural History Society, (SCNHS) funds were obtained from the Shell Environmental Fund (SEF) to print a bird checklist for the park. Tony Greenfield is compiling the checklist information. BC Parks will be adding the small binocular logo signs to existing park directional signs.
    Located just west of Sechelt is Sargeant Bay Provincial Park. This small park includes sandy marine beaches, a large wetland marsh, and upland. There is a small fish ladder at the far end of the park which provides fish with access from the ocean waters into the marsh. SCNHS has also obtained funds from the SEF to print a bird checklist for this park. BC Parks will be adding logo signs to existing highway directional signs.

Checklists Available

As of the end of 1995, eleven bird checklists are available, each with an 'other wildlife' section in which is outlined, where applicable, the most easily viewed mammal, amphibian, reptile and fish species. These checklists are:

British Columbia Wildlife Watch - What is it?

British Columbia Wildlife Watch is the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks' program designed to promote viewing opportunities within British Columbia. However, the program is more than just viewing wildlife. The protection of wildlife and their habitats, and a positive, safe experience for the viewer are the primary objectives of the program. Its goals include educating the public on how and where to view wildlife, providing information on why wildlife occur where and when they do, and emphasizing the importance of maintaining and enhancing habitat.

While the Ministry oversees the management of British Columbia Wildlife Watch, there is a Public Advisory Committee which assists in setting priorities. Representation on this Committee is broad, including naturalists, hunters, fishers, guide outfitters, and representatives from the tourism and forestry sectors. Since the program began in 1989, many sites across the province have been identified for viewing, some with new viewing structures and interpretive signs. The development, or formalization, and promotion of viewing activities at a given site is only done once it has been determined that neither the wildlife nor the habitats will be compromised.

The program's blue and white binocular logo is used on directional signs to identify viewing sites, and to direct visitors to the sites. The areas identified include sites with managed viewing opportunities, such as the Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area and the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Most of the areas currently identified for viewing provide opportunities to observe wildlife in their 'natural' habitat. However, other sites which involve habitat enhancement and/or educational facilities are being identified. This includes many salmon spawning channels and fish hatcheries, such as the Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery, Weaver Creek Spawning Channel and Chilliwack River Hatchery.

To be identified as a viewing site, there must be secure, definable land tenure and management, and of course, reliable viewing and/or educational opportunities. In the Lower Mainland Region the sites identified are managed by a range of government agencies (federal, provincial, regional, and municipal) as well as non-profit organizations, societies and groups.

Wildlife viewing sites have been signed throughout British Columbia. Many regions have a regional viewing brochure and site-specific brochures.

If you travel outside British Columbia, look for a stylized binocular logo or people viewing symbol in other jurisdictions. Many provinces and states have similar viewing programs, occasionally with a detailed viewing guide available.

Project Funding - 1994 and 1995 Partners

Specific projects completed in the Lower Mainland Region during the past two calendar years were made possible due to the support of many agencies, organizations, societies, groups and companies.

Some provided funds directly, while others sponsored grants. Funds obtained were used to print bird checklists and site information brochures, and to purchase and install binocular logo signs. Without the participation of these partners, it is unlikely that any of the projects would have been completed.

In addition to funds obtained, numerous individuals have donated many hours of time to prepare and/or review brochures and checklists.

The following provided project funding directly:

  • BC Environment, Surrey
  • GVRD Parks Department
  • Vancouver Natural History Society
  • Faradyne Systems Group Inc.
  • Ducks Unlimited Canada
  • Canadian Wildlife Service
  • FBCN Foundation
  • City of Port Moody
  • District of North Vancouver
  • BC Parks - Garibaldi/Sunshine District
  • BC Parks - Vancouver District
  • Regional District of Fraser-Cheam
  • Fraser Valley Trout Hatchery

The following groups sponsored funding grants:

  • Alouette Field Naturalists
  • Delta Naturalists' Society
  • Sunshine Coast Natural History Society
  • Burke Mountain Naturalists

Grants were received from the following sources:

  • Canada Trust's Friends of the Environment Foundation, Tri-City Chapter
  • Federation of BC Naturalists
  • Shell Environmental Fund
  • Burrard Inlet Environmental Action Program
  • Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

Bird Tracks

Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park

    Located in Popkum, about 15 kilometres east of Chilliwack, this park encompasses about 93 hectares (250 acres). The Park is an example of habitat restoration. During the 1950's, the original lake was drained during the process of mining marl from the bottom sediments. Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans built a water control structure with a fish ladder in 1992 to allow the lake to reflood, and to create valuable wetland habitat. Changes are occurring as the lake reestablishes, and new wildlife species will begin to visit the park. This your opportunity to watch this change. From Highway 1 take Exit 135 onto Highway 9 and watch for the binocular logo signs.

Chilliwack River Hatchery

    This facility was completed in 1981 under the Salmonid Enhancement Program, and is the biggest producer of Coho Salmon, with runs exceeding 150,000 fish. In addition to Coho, Chinook, Pink and Chum Salmon and Steelhead Trout are raised here. Located at the junction of the Chilliwack River and Slesse Creek, this facility is open to the public daily. There is a loop trail through the rearing facilities that will take at least 30 minutes to complete. From Highway 1 take the Sardis exit south. Turn left immediately before the Chilliwack River bridge, just past the military base, and continue 20 kilometres to the hatchery.
Hayward Lake Reservoir Recreation Area
    Managed by B.C. Hydro, this is one of many recreation sites located throughout British Columbia that are open to the public. This site is located on Hayward Lake just below the Stave Falls Dam and Powerhouse which were built between 1909 and 1925. Hayward Lake forms part of the Alouette-Stave-Ruskin generation system. The recreation area has a large picnic area, grassy open spaces, and parking for 90 vehicles. There are several trails and unique historical features, including a trail around the Beaver pond, and a hiking trail along the old railroad grade. An interpretive brochure for the Pond Trail is available from B.C. Hydro. From Highway 7 turn north onto 287th Street and follow the signs to the site.