Report Abstract


The Development and Testing of a Reconnaissance Level Wetland Assessment Form on the TaTa Skookumchuck Range Unit


Tim Ross, P.Ag., Michael Keefer, M.Sc., A.Ag., Bob Jamieson





In southeastern British Columbia the conservation of wetlands has traditionally focused on large wetlands or large floodplain wetland complexes. Although the habitat values of large wetlands and wetland complexes are easily recognized, small, lentic wetlands may be equally important in maintaining regional biodiversity.

The Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program initiated a two-phase project to develop a wetland assessment tool and conduct preliminary assessments on 25 wetlands in the TaTa/Skookumchuck Range Unit. The system defines 12 wetland types ranging from sites; where soils are ponded (lakes, ponds and shallow water), where soils are either saturated or ponded (swamps, marshes, fens and bogs), where soils are inundated or saturated for part of the season, (shrub carr, graminoid meadow, forb meadow and deciduous margin). Five indicators are used to evaluate wetland systems; plant community composition, plant community structure, litter, bare soil and invasive plant species. A score-card ranks the status of the site against a reference condition plant community. Descriptive features include; site description, wildlife habitat features, and potential management actions. Competent technicians should be capable of assessing the condition of the vegetation and related attributes in small wetlands within a time frame of 30-100 minutes.

A total of 31 wetlands in the TaTa/Skookumchuck Range Unit were assessed. Nine of the surveyed sites were rated as in reference condition, 12 were slightly altered and five were moderately altered. Water was not found in 16 of the wetlands where it was expected; leading to the conclusion that hydrology is a major limiting factor in these wetlands. The majority (21) of the wetlands were impacted by industrial activity. Disturbance from off-road vehicle impacts was found at eight wetlands, and from other recreation pursuits at 10 wetlands. Disturbance from herbivores watering, grazing and browsing was noted in 28 wetlands.Wildlife habitat features found included snags and coarse woody debris (25 sites), loafing sites (13), and caves/rocks for nesting (11).

Recommendations include;
1. a detailed hydrological study in at least one watershed in the study area,
2. two of the wetlands found in moderate condition be selected in order to devise appropriate management actions,
3. further refinement of the tool by surveying additional wetlands in the Rocky Mountain Trench, small lentic wetlands associated with wetter forest types, lentic systems, lotic wetlands on large river systems, and lotic wetlands associated with secondary streams.


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