Canada Kootenays Sport Region
 Sports, Nature and Recreation

The Columbia Wetlands

The Columbia Wetlands is a 16,969 hectare wetland in the Columbia Valley region of southeastern British Columbia, Canada. The area of 151 square kilometers was designated a wetland of international importance on World Environment Day, June 5, 2005, and is the thirty-seventh such site in Canada. The wetland satisfies all the inclusion criteria of the Ramsar Convention. It is "one of the longest intact wetlands in North America", is the headwaters for the Columbia River system, and "comprises a regionally unparalleled diversity". It is also part of the Living Lakes Network.

The Columbia Wetlands are located in the Rocky Mountain Trench, a long, wide valley between the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west. The area consists primarily of riparian and wetland habitat along the floodplain of the Columbia River, including lakes, marshes, ponds, swamps, and flowing and standing water.

The Columbia Wetlands are a vital component of the Pacific Flyway, a waterfowl migration route which stretches from nesting areas on the Arctic Ocean to wintering grounds in South America. The wetlands provide nesting, feeding and resting sites which are used intensively by ducks, geese, Tundra and Trumpeter Swan, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Merganser, Loon, Grebe, Kingfisher and Bald Eagle.

White-tailed Deer, Moose, Elk and other ungulates find vital habitat here, especially in the winter. Cougar, Wolf, Coyote, Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Beaver and Muskrat, Pileated Woodpecker and many small mammals and songbirds use the area, along with a number of imperiled and critically-imperiled species. These wetlands are critical for maintaining regional populations of several species of amphibians and reptiles, including the Leopard Frog, Painted Turtle and Rubber Boa. In addition, a variety of sports and other fish species occur, including Westslope Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout, Mountain Whitefish, Largemouth Bass, Burbot, Pumpkinseed, Peamouth Chub, Northern Squawfish, Longnose Sucker and Redside Shiner.

The Columbia wetlands offer opportunities for a range of recreational activities including wildlife viewing, interpretive float trips, canoe and incredible nature scenes. The Columbia River system has a long history of occupation by indigenous peoples and there are numerous archaeological and traditional use sites of importance to First Nations in the wetlands.

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Sport Destinations

Many small and larger towns in the Kootenays offer recreation, activities, hospitality comfort and impressive nature scenes that you will not forget. Read more about these fascinating places in the Canada sports region: