|Lakelse Lake Wetlands Provincial
Park covers 1,214 hectares at the south end of Lakelse Lake, the largest warm
water lake in north western British Columbia. Also located on Lakelse Lake is
Lakelse Lake Provincial Park.|
The park contains internationally significant salmon spawning and rearing habitat,
critical habitat for over-wintering steelhead, and regionally important migratory
and over-wintering waterfowl and moose winter range. Trumpeter Swans over-winter,
breed, and nest in the wetlands, and Grizzly Bears frequent the area in the spring
Lake Wetlands Park protects a biologically exceptional warm water wetland complex.
Warm water springs in the wetlands drain into Lakelse Lake. Clearwater and Andalas
Creeks have open water throughout the winter as the streams are fed by warm water
springs along an escarpment above the creeks.
The bog ecosystem in the Lakelse Lake Wetlands is the largest in the region. It
contains scattered and stunted Lodgepole Pine, Western Red Cedar, and Western
Hemlock. In addition to water-loving shrubs and herbs, the bogs contain specialized
plants such as sundews, tall white bog orchids, and bog club-moss. Accumulations
of moss and organic material are often greater than 100 cm, and water tables are
within 20 cm of the surface.
The south end of Lakelse Lake contains the most extensive cover of emergent and
submerged aquatic plants remaining in Lakelse Lake. Dominant plants include Swamp
horsetail in water to 1 metre, and reeds in water to 4 metres in depth. The band
of vegetation extends from Schulbuckhand Creek, on the east side of the park,
to the outlet of the Lakelse River in the west. The aquatic vegetation has established
on shallows built up by sediments from inflowing streams (Schulbuckhand, Clearwater,
Andalas, and Ena Creeks). The aquatic vegetation is stabilized by the constant
replenishment of sediments and nutrients that are carried in the streams.
The park also contains regionally significant old growth stands, which are rare
in the Kitimat Ranges Ecosection. Several small stands are located in the northwest
corner, between Andalas and Clearwater Creek, and on the southeast boundary of
the park. Mature and old-growth forests commonly found on higher ground in the
Lakelse Lake and Lakelse River area are very productive and contain Western hemlock,
Sitka Spruce (largest trees in stand), and Western Red Cedar. Shrub cover is dense,
and is dominated by Devilís Club, Salmonberry, and Oval-leaf huckleberry. Herbs
are well developed, but the moss layer is thin.
The large reed beds around the southern shoreline of Lakelse Lake, and the streams
that run through the alluvial fans and wetlands, provide prime fish habitat. Steelhead
over-winter in the reed beds. The warm water of Clearwater Creek supports a late
fall Coho run. The quality of water that drains through the wetlands is critical
to the Lakelse River fishery. The water drains into the lake through the wetlands
and out the Lakelse River, which drains from the southwest corner of the lake,
approximately 500 metres from the northern boundary of the park.
The wetlands also contain regionally significant waterfowl habitat that is of
great importance to migratory and over-wintering waterfowl. Trumpeter Swan, a
provincially blue-listed/threatened species, over-winter and nest in the wetlands.
There are reports of more than 100 swans wintering in the wetlands. Swans stay
in the area from early winter to spring and breeding occurs in the wetlands. Geese
and ducks feed and rest in the wetlands and in the reed beds at the south end
of the lake.
and Black Bears use the corridor from Clearwater Lake along Clearwater Creek to
the wetlands. Grizzlies use the east side of the park in the spring (to feed on
shrubs) and fall (to feed on salmon). One of the regions highest seasonal (fall)
concentrations of Grizzlies is found along Clearwater Creek. Grizzly Bear density
varies with the size of the salmon run. Historically there was a large seasonal
population of Grizzly Bears in the wetland.
Grizzlies were known to stay in the area until December, feeding on the late Coho
runs in Coldwater Creek. Occasionally, after the late feeding, Grizzlies denned
in the wetlands because snow accumulations prevented them from getting to their
usual denning areas. The Cecil Creek drainage, west of the park, is a crossing
zone for Grizzlies from four different populations. The Grizzly Bears breed in
this area and cubs are often reared in the wetland.
The wetlands are also an important seasonal habitat for Black Bear, Wolf, Beaver
and other small furbearers. Some of the Black Bears in the area are subspecies
Ursus americanus kermodei, (white phase). Black Bear use of the area is very high.
The bears forage on Pacific Crabapple and salmon.
Recreation in the park includes exploring the wetlands by canoe or kayak, fishing
for trout, char and Coho salmon in Andalas and Clearwater Creeks, and hiking.
Wilderness, backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed, but no facilities are provided.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter are possible on the old logging
roads on the east side of the park. Access into the wetlands can be made via the
old logging roads leading into the park from the east side of Highway 37, between
Schulbuckhand Creek and Onion Lake. These roads are not maintained and can be
narrow and overgrown.
Lakelse Lake Wetlands Provincial Park is located at the south end of Lakelse Lake,
approximately 18 km south of Terrace and 40 km north of Kitimat on Highway 37.
Access is by boat from Lakelse Lake, or by hiking via the old logging roads. Use
NTS Map Sheet #103 I/7 (Lakelse Lake). Additional information on the park is available
from the Kitimat Visitor Centre.