IBA Douglas Lake Plateau
Kamloops, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC172 Latitude
50.277° N
120.303° W
625 - 1,000 m
1,552.33 km²
coniferous forest (temperate), deciduous woods (temperate), native grassland, rivers/streams, freshwater lake, inland saline lake, freshwater marsh, arable & cultivated lands, improved pastureland
Land Use:
Agriculture, Nature conservation and research, Fisheries/aquaculture, Forestry, Hunting, Rangeland/pastureland, Tourism/recreation, Water management
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Arable farming, Disturbance, Dykes/dam/barrages, Deforestation, Extraction industry, Filling in of wetlands, Grazing, Introduced species, Other environmental events, Recreation/tourism, Urban/industrial development
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Wading Bird Concentrations, Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status:
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Site Description
The Douglas Lake Plateau extends from the outskirts of Kamloops in the north to Nicola Lake in the south, and to Salmon Lake in the east. The site is a rolling plateau of bunchgrass grasslands, small marshy lakes, Douglas-fir/Ponderosa Pine forest, and aspen parkland. Some portions of the site are improved grasslands or are utilized for hayfields. Most of the hilly plateau is covered with various types of glacial till. All of the lakes that dot the plateau are small except for Nicola Lake, which is significantly larger. The site is also unique for having small populations of Badger, Great Basin Spadefoot (nationally Threatened) and the Rubber Boa.
Significant Species - Perhaps the most significant species of the many that use the Douglas Lake Plateau for migration and breeding is the Sandhill Crane (Blue-listed, vulnerable, in British Columbia). More than 10 pairs breed yearly, while up to 10,000 birds pass through on both spring and fall migration. These large numbers represent over 1.5% of the North American population of this species. In addition to the cranes, thousands of raptors, shorebirds and mixed waterfowl flocks move through in the spring and fall. This whole site is a major migration corridor for loons, grebes, waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds, gulls and passerines. There is perhaps no other area in the British Columbia Interior that matches the Douglas Lake Plateau in importance for migratory birds.

Two nationally vulnerable species that breed in the dry interior parkland forests are found on the plateau. Possibly the largest concentration of Flammulated Owls in Canada occurs here, a species determined to be Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC; wildlife species that have been assessed as at risk by COSEWIC may qualify for legal protection and recovery under Canada's Species at Risk Act) . Some researchers estimate that 600 pairs breed in a large area that goes beyond this IBA, so a significant percentage of the poorly known Flammulated Owl population in Canada may breed within the IBA. Numbers are additionally difficult to estimate because researchers are not yet sure how numbers of calling birds reflect numbers of paired birds. All three of the habitat subtypes that are required by Flammulated Owls occur here: dry old-growth forest snags (for nesting), grassy or shrubby forage sites, and benches and dry gullies with thickets of vegetation or Douglas-fir groves (for escaping predation).

The Douglas Lake Plateau area supports nationally significant populations of Lewis's Woodpecker, determined to be Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC; wildlife species that have been assessed as at risk by COSEWIC may qualify for legal protection and recovery under Canada's Species at Risk Act) , which regularly breeds here in unknown numbers. Also present during the summer, are 10 or more Burrowing Owls that are part of an ongoing Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC reintroduction program. This species has been released at several locations within the IBA.

Other Species of Conservation Interest - Several raptor species of interest are found here: over 20 Swainson's Hawks breed in the area; at least one Ferruginous Hawk nest site that may still be active; and at least 2 pairs of provincially rare Prairie Falcon. Provincially uncommon breeding birds, or other birds of interest include: Bobolink, Brewer's Sparrow, Common Nighthawk (August migration), American Avocet, Black Tern, and Yellow-headed Blackbird.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Burrowing Owl 1995 SU 10
Lewis's Woodpecker 2015 - 2016 FA 12 - 20
Lewis's Woodpecker 2016 SU 10
Sandhill Crane 1995 FA 10,000
Sandhill Crane 1995 - 2019 SP 6,000 - 10,000
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
The plateau is mostly used for livestock rangeland and hence most of the land is owned by large private ranches such as the Douglas Lake Ranch and the Guichon Ranch. Significant areas are also used for agriculture, primarily hayfields, and there are increasing pressures from housing developments, recreational developments, and the expansion of existing highway corridors. Water management on Nicola Lake has the potential to effect the marshy fringe areas. Although deforestation and tree cutting are occurring in local areas, the most threatened ecosystem in the site would be the natural grasslands.

This is a very large, complex area that presents significant challenges in terms of developing management strategies. At present, Ducks Unlimited has been involved in several projects within this area, most notably at Beaver Ranch Flats and Stumplake Creek. On the Guichon Ranch there is a wildlife viewing location established by Ducks Unlimited.

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.
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