Conserving Riparian Habitats and Species-at-Risk in the Wahleach Watershed

Project Year: 2016-2017

View Provincial Database Record


Project Lead

South Coast Bat Action Team


Coastal Region

Project Type

Research & Information Acquisition

FWCP Contribution


Action Plan Alignment

Watershed Plan

Project ID


Riparian Habitats and Species-at-Risk in Wahleach Watershed

This project will create a vegetation community map of riparian habitats and inventory FWCP high-priority, species-at-risk (SAR) in the Wahleach Watershed.

The project will specifically address four study objectives:

  1. to measure and map riparian habitats important for wildlife species-at-risk in the Wahleach Watershed;
  2. to identify the presence and where possible, the relative abundance of small mammals, bats, birds, and amphibians present within riparian habitats of the watershed, using established methodology;
  3. to identify opportunities for conservation and restoration of biodiversity in the watershed; and
  4. to develop management recommendations to improve species-at-risk habitat.

This project will provide important baseline information to prioritize future management actions.

Species expected to benefit include: Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat, Little Brown Myotis, Keen’s Myotis, Pacific Water Shrew, Mountain Beaver, Western Toad, Coastal Tailed Frog, Northern Red-Legged Frog, Pacific Giant Salamander, Harlequin Duck, Bald Eagle, and others. The project will produce detailed and thorough knowledge of the riparian habitats and species of the Wahleach Watershed. This knowledge will include identification of SAR, leading to a greater understanding of SAR habitat associations. Baseline data collected in 2016 will also serve as a scientific baseline for the area, creating a control for future changes and fluctuations in the area. Potential scientific findings of this inventory include detection of species not previously known in the area, rare habitats, important habitat (such as hibernacula or vernal pools), migration corridors, etc. The project will create a species-specific inventory, in order to determine the status of species inhabiting the watershed. This data on occupancy and habitat associations of SAR will lay the foundations for preservation of habitat to maintain populations of these species in the watershed. Management recommendations will provide further opportunities to sustain and grow these populations.

An important project outcome is the opportunity to develop management and restoration recommendations based on species data collected during habitat mapping and inventory activities. The project, in alignment with the priority topics identified in the Wahleach Watershed Plan, will provide important baseline information about biodiversity in the watershed to prioritize future management action. During this project, restoration opportunities will be discussed with project partners and included in the final project report. The report will identify opportunities to make enhancements to habitat that are economical and have long-term benefits to species in the watershed.

Final Report: Executive Summary

Species-at-risk in the Wahleach watershed have been impacted by recreational and commercial activities over the past century, including the introduction of fish to the original fish-less Wahleach Lake, timber extraction, metallic and non-metallic mineral mining, and construction of the Wahleach Hydroelectric Facility in 1952. The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) was initiated in 1999 to restore fish and wildlife resources that were adversely affected by the development footprint of hydroelectric facilities in British Columbia. Footprint impacts include historical effects on fish and wildlife that have occurred because of reservoir creation, watercourse diversions, and the construction of dam and auxiliary structures.

In 2016 – 2017, the FWCP Coastal Region retained Quercus Ecological to inventory wildlife species-at-risk using riparian and wetland habitat in the Wahleach watershed. The purpose of the project was to fill data gaps on species distribution and abundance to prioritize future conservation and management action for species-atrisk. Previous information on species-at-risk was limited to desktop assessments made without empirical field data collected in the watershed. As a result, the project addressed the following four priority items identified in the Wahleach Watershed Plan (2011):

  • 2.1 Riparian and wetland habitat mapping
  • 2.2 Inventory of amphibians
  • 2.3 Inventory of riparian and water-birds
  • 2.4 Inventory of bats

Click the provincial database link below to read the full final report for this project.

View more about this project on the provincial database