IBA Sumallo River/Skagit Valley
Hope, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC035 Latitude
49.112° N
120.942° W
650 - 1,250 m
1,070.38 km²
coniferous forest (temperate), rivers/streams, cliffs/rocky shores (inland), scree/boulders
Land Use:
Nature conservation and research, Forestry, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Deforestation, Extraction industry, Interactions with native species/disease
IBA Criteria: Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status: Provincial Park (including Marine), Special Resource Management Zone (B.C. Spotted Owl sites)
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Site Description
This site encompasses the Skagit River drainage from Skaist Creek in the southeast to Twenty-eight Mile Creek in the west, and includes the Sumallo River drainage northwest to the Manning Provincial Park boundary and the Snass Creek drainage.

The Skagit-Sumallo Important Bird Area is comprised of a series of interconnected valleys, forested with Western Hemlock, Western Red-cedar and Douglas-fir. At and beyond the upper limit of the site (1250 m), the habitat changes to a subalpine forest with Engelmann Spruce, Subalpine Fir, Amabilis Fir and Mountain Hemlock. Most of the forest on this site is old growth.

Because this site is within a highly faulted area of the Cascade Mountains, the terrain is very rugged and rocky. Most of the rivers in the area flow into deep valleys with relatively high gradients. The Sumallo River, however, has some slow moving, meandering sections. The nationally endangered Tailed Frog, a species that requires cold mountain streams in unlogged areas, is found at this site.

The Skagit-Sumallo IBA is one of only a few sites in Canada that consistently has breeding pairs of the nationally endangered Northern Spotted Owl. In most years, four Northern Spotted Owls can be found at this site; in total the Canadian population is estimated at a maximum of 100 pairs.

The Sumallo and Skagit Rivers also provide breeding habitat for Harlequin Duck, Common Merganser, and American Dipper. Black Swifts are also thought to nest on some of the valley walls that are situated near small waterfalls. Forests in the surrounding area provide habitat for species characteristic of coastal coniferous forests, including Northern Pygmy-Owl, Vaux's Swift, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, and Varied Thrush.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Sage Thrasher 2016 - 2019 SP 1
Spotted Owl 1997 - 2007 SP 1 - 2
Spotted Owl 1995 - 1997 SU 1 - 4
Spotted Owl 1995 WI 4
Note: species shown in bold indicate that the maximum number exceeds at least one of the IBA thresholds (sub-regional, regional or global). The site may still not qualify for that level of IBA if the maximum number reflects an exceptional or historical occurrence.
Conservation Issues
Most of this site is protected within Manning Provincial Park and Skagit Provincial Park. There is some threat of logging in areas outside the parks, but the rough terrain and inaccessibility of the area would make this difficult in most cases. However, there has been some illegal logging of very large cedars at nearby Sumallo Grove. The rugged terrain also tends to discourage recreational activities that could disrupt the Spotted Owls.

The provincial government has created twenty-one Special Resource Management Zones (SRMZ) to help preserve Spotted Owl habitat by controlling forestry practices within these areas. SRMZ #1 (Manning and Skagit) encompasses this IBA site.

The IBA Program is an international conservation initiative coordinated by BirdLife International. The Canadian co-partners for the IBA Program are Birds Canada and Nature Canada.
   © Birds Canada