BC Rockies Information Portal

Columbia River Wetlands

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The Columbia Valley Wetlands covers an area from Canal Flats to Donald and is the longest continuous wetlands remaining on the continent. It covers 26,000 hectares (64,000 acres) and supports over 260 resident and migratory bird species. The Columbia flood plain is very flat and ranges from 1-2 km in width.

Wetlands are places where water accumulates for a period long enough so that waterlogged, oxygen-depleted soils develop and water loving vegetation grows. The wetlands play a vital ecological role by providing habitat for a rich variety of plants and animals and they remove as much as 90% of sediment and toxins from water. The wetlands also help prevent global warming by slowing the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Endangered Species

Of greatest concern in the Columbia Wetlands are the Northern Leopard Frog and the White Sturgeon. Two other listed species are the Prairie Falcon and the Short Eared Owl. Also affected are the many species of migratory waterfowl and song birds, which come each year, seeking haven to rest on their flight or safe and suitable nesting sites. Without these their numbers will dwindle.


The Columbia River wetlands were declared a wildlife management area in 1996. Following recommendations by the Commission on Resources and Environment in 1994 this area was identified as a high priority for special status conservation. The Columbia has been designated a B.C. Heritage River.

For more information on the wetlands or if you would like to become a member of the Friends of the Columbia Wetlands Society log on to their web site at www.focw.com