The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area is a river delta wetland and Wildlife Management Area, on the floodplain of the Kootenay River at the south end of Kootenay Lake. Predominantly marshland, it was classified as a wetland of international importance in 1994, and is also a globally significant important bird area. It is one of the “few significant agricultural areas of the province”. It stretches north along Kootenay Lake for approximately 20 km, and south to the United States border. It is both the only breeding site of the Forster’s tern and the only site with leopard frogs in the province, as well as one of the few Canadian habitats for the Coeur D’Alene salamander. Creston Valley provides staging and nesting areas for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway. It covers an area of approximately 69.0 km2 of provincial Crown land. The wetland also contains the 15 km2 Duck Lake and 17 marshes. To the east are the Purcell Mountains and to the west the Selkirk Mountains.
Combining conservation, research, education and recreation, the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area is a spectacular place to visit with the whole family, again and again. Thanks to a thriving wetland of international importance, the area is visited by over 100,000 migrating water birds every year. It’s a migration corridor for Tundra Swans, Greater White-fronted Geese and other waterfowl, and it’s the largest regional locale for wintering birds of prey in interior BC.
Along with 303 species of birds, the CVWMA is home to 60 species of mammals, 17 species of fish, six species of reptiles, and six species of amphibians. Many species at risk find refuge here, including Forster’s Terns, the Western Grebe, American Bitterns, Great Blue Herons, the Western Painted Turtle and the Northern Leopard Frog.
An extensive trail system facilitates access to this 17,000-acre area year-round. Relax with a guided or self-guided canoe trip, gentle hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. The Wildlife Interpretation Centre offers a variety of educational programs and events for schools, groups and visitors. Or indulge your competitive side in the annual Blue Heron half-marathon and 10 km run.
The area is managed by the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area to prevent invasive species from establishing themselves in the wetland, particularly targeting cattails and reed canary grass. This is done by periodically drawing down the water level of the marshes. Areas that get choked with vegetation are rehabilitated by drying them up and then ploughing up the ground to get rid of the seed bank that develops over time.” This also ensures broad biodiversity by preventing one plant species from dominating the region.
Wildlife Interpretation Centre. Located 11 kilometre west of Creston off Hwy 3 and is
open May to October. The Centre features natural history displays, a hands-on science lab, viewing towers and a gift shop. Environmental educational programs and events are offered for schools, groups and visitors, including guided walks and canoe tours.
History. The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area was established in 1968, and acquired its mandate via the Creston Valley Wildlife Act. This followed nearly 26 years of persistence by conservationists and biologists and nearby residents who wished to protect Duck Lake and its adjoining wetland habitats. Subsequently, with assistance from BC Hydro and Ducks Unlimited by a system of dykes and other control structures were built to manage water levels in Duck Lake, and hence the wetlands, reducing the impact of yearly drought and flood cycles.
Archaeological evidence indicates that First Nations have lived in the area for thousands of years. The area is the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa people.