Columbia River Wetlands

Despite wild animals making such great photographic subjects, I have decided to feature something different for the September Photo of the Month. This month’s winner is John McCrae with his beautiful landscape photo of the Columbia River Wetlands. The photo includes the valley sides framing the winding river and wetlands below. The colours in this photo are amazing, with complimentary hues in the glowing clouds, valley grasses, and wooden tree trunks. Great job, John!

During the summer, I became acquainted with the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, also known as the Ramsar Convention, named for the city of Ramsar, Iran where it took place in 1971. The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a specific ecosystem type – in this case, wetlands. It provides a framework for national action and international cooperation for the purpose of conservation and wise (sustainable) use of wetlands and their resources.

Ramsar Convention sites are identified by one or more of nine criteria (listed in more detail here). These include, broadly: 

  • sites containing rare or unique wetland types;
  • sites conserving biological diversity (species and communities);
  • sites supporting vulnerable or endangered species or communities;
  • sites supporting species at a critical life stage;
  • sites regularly supporting 20,000 or more waterbirds,
  • sites supporting 1% of the individuals in a population (waterbirds and other taxa);
  • sites that are an important food source for fish, spawning grounds, nursery, or migration path.

Three of the Canada’s thirty seven Ramsar sites occur in BC: the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area; the Fraser River Delta Ramsar site; and the Columbia Valley Wetlands. On June 5, 2005 the Columbia Valley Wetlands became the newest Canadian Ramsar Convention site, satisfying all of the aforementioned criteria. The Columbia Valley Wetlands are North America’s largest continuous wetland, covering 64,000 acres, and occur in the headwaters of North America’s fourth most voluminous river system, the Columbia River network.

Of the 216 species that make home here, a few of particular significance include the endangered Bull Trout, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Short-Eared Owl, American badger, White Sturgeon, and the extirpated Northern Leopard Frog. Over 180 species of birds nest, breed, or layover here during migration. The Columbia Valley Wetlands are heralded as an area of “regionally unparalleled diversity.”

The Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners is a non-profit group whose goal is to allow local communities to participate in wetland stewardship- check them out at

The Ramsar Conveiton web page contains further information and photos about the Columbia Valley Wetlands and other Wetlands of International Importance around the globe – check out their website here

Thank you John for your excellent contribution and promoting wetland stewardship in BC. View more of his stunning photography here! For those interested in viewing other great photos, please visit our Wetlands of British Columbia community on Flickr here. We would love to see your photos, so be sure to ongoingly submit pictures to our community group.

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