Conserving Species-at-Risk in the Stave River Watershed

Project Year: 2016-2017

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Photo: J. Hobbs

Project Lead

Athene Ecological


Coastal Region

Stave River

Project Type

Species-Based Actions

FWCP Contribution


Action Plan Alignment

Stave Species Action Plan

Project ID


Species-at-Risk Conservation in the Stave River Watershed

This project will identify, protect, monitor and restore species-at-risk (SAR) and their habitats in the Stave River Watershed. Benefits to overall biodiversity in the watershed will be observed through multiple species and stakeholder habitat management planning and restoration. Species-of-interest include: (Year 1) Western Toads, Red-legged Frogs, Western Painted Turtles, Great Blue Heron and Western Screech-Owls; and (Year 2) Coastal Tailed Frog, Pacific Water Shrew, Band-Tailed Pigeon and SAR bats. Following identification of SAR populations, any new occurrences will be monitored along with known sites. Enhancement and restoration activities will be conducted in partnership with DFO, MFLNRO, First Nations, watershed and salmon enhancement societies, and private landowners.

This project will result in: a minimum of 10 hectares mitigated/protected for species-at-risk through identification of occurrences, and mapping suitable habitat, including wildlife habitat area delineation for Western Screech-Owl and Red-Legged Frog, and colony identification and mapping for Great Blue Heron; two kilometres of riparian habitat identified and protected through mapping for Pacific Water Shrew, Band-Tailed Pigeon and Hero; and 500 metres of riparian habitat restored for Western Painted Turtle through basking habitat and nesting habitat enhancement.

Final Report: Executive Summary

In 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) approved funding for the “Species at Risk Conservation in the Stave River Watershed” project. In cooperation with the associated Species at Risk (SAR) Recovery Teams and Working Groups as well as local stakeholders, the project is working towards conservation and restoration of the habitats and populations of several priority species within the Stave Watershed and environs. Our project is employing a multi-species approach established in the 5-year SAR FWCP project funded in the adjacent Alouette Watershed. This approach is aimed at identifying and undertaking actions to mitigate or compensate for negative ecological impacts on these species resulting from the construction and operation of the Stave, Ruskin and Blind Slough Dams. We are developing specific, comprehensive and effective management and restoration recommendations, through several stages of population and habitat assessment throughout BC Hydro’s operating footprint and the immediate area.

The first year of this 5-year proposed project, was focused on identifying and mapping the size distribution and species at risk populations and their habitats, and was primarily focused on the lower reaches of the watershed. Historical occurrence information was compiled, including several undocumented occurrences reported by professionals, stakeholders, and the general public. Target species for Year 2 included the Year 1 species; riparian and wetland obligates: Western Toad, Redlegged Frog, Western Painted Turtle, “Coastal” Western Screech-owl and Great Blue Heron, and the addition of Pacific Water Shrew and Coastal Tailed Frog. These species were selected due to their high rankings in the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program’s Stave Watershed Species Action plan as well as the BC Conservation Framework. We identified and visited numerous habitats throughout the project area, and assessed potential threats and opportunities for conservation and restoration. Works into the future will include adding additional focal SAR for inventory and habitat assessment, tracking all SAR reports and observations made in the watershed, and implementing our recommended conservation and restoration activities.

Highlights of accomplishments in Year 2 (2016-17) include; the gathering of 47 SAR observations with all Year 1 and 2 target species represented, the monitoring of 86 sites identified as suitable as breeding habitat for Western Toad and Red-legged (58 surveyed), 48 sites surveyed for Western Painted Turtle, two currently active Great Blue Heron colonies monitored, and 206 call playback surveys conducted for Western Screech-owl at 155 stations. Five out of eight sites identified as high priority for amphibian conservation measures in Year 1 confirmed to be occupied by Red-legged Frog and Western Toad were monitored, assessed for Wildlife Habitat Area proposal and three sites were restored (Allan Lake, Worldwide 1 and Mill Pond). One site (Silvermere Lake) known to be of high regional importance for Western Painted Turtle populations, had restoration activities carried out in cooperation with project partners as identified in Year 1. Western Screech-owl territories confirmed in Year 1 were monitored, had habitat assessments completed and were delineated as well as had 8 nesting boxes installed to enhance habitat. Thirteen sites were surveyed for Coastal Tailed Frog with 7 sites confirmed occupied. Pacific Water Shrew occupancy surveys were conducted via eDNA sampling at 13 sites; including three known occupied sites, one of which was a detection from project activities in Year 1. Bats were monitored at 4 sites plus along a North American Bat Monitoring Program road transect resulting in the detection of 9 species in the watershed, including the federally-listed Little Brown Bat.

In future years of a species at risk project, further monitoring and assessment are recommended to be conducted to contribute to the development of plans for and implementation of conservation measures identified in the first 2 years of this project, including (1) habitat enhancement – adding and preserving critical habitat features (oviposition sites for amphibians, turtle nesting and basking areas, owl nest boxes, wildlife tree retention), (2) threat mitigation (fencing, road crossing structures, signage) and (3) habitat conservation (protection through provincial Wildlife Habitat Area proposals, working with stakeholders to implement site specific management plans in important habitats on other public, private and federal lands).

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

View more about this project on the provincial database