IBA Fraser Lake
Fraser Lake, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC221 Latitude
54.079° N
124.752° W
660 m
73.37 km²
rivers/streams, freshwater lake
Land Use:
Fisheries/aquaculture, Tourism/recreation
Potential or ongoing Threats:
IBA Criteria: Globally Significant: Congregatory Species, Continentally Significant: Waterfowl Concentrations, Nationally Significant: Congregatory Species
Conservation status:
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Site Description
Fraser Lake is located near the geographic center of British Columbia, between the towns of Fraser Lake and Fort Fraser. The area surrounding the lake on the east, west, and south sides is mostly used for forage production and ranching. The lands to the south consist of gently rolling aspen parkland. The north side of the lake is forested with mainly spruce, pine, and fir. The Nautley River flows out of Fraser Lake into the Nechako River. There are hundreds of private cabins along the shoreline.
Fraser Lake is a globally significant wintering site for Trumpeter Swans. Typically over a thousand can be seen in this lake in November. An average of 1,027 were seen between 1993 and 1997 at this time of the year. The numbers decrease as the winter progresses, and in the latter part of the winter, are found at the two ends of the lake where the Stellako and Nautley rivers join the lake and the adjacent portions of the rivers where the water is ice-free.

Fraser Lake is also a continentally important site for migrating waterfowl in fall, and a nationally significant site for fall migrating American Wigeon. Peak counts of between 12,445 and 28,544 ducks, geese and swans are regularly recorded on the lake in late fall. American Wigeon was by far the most common waterfowl species (10,824 peak count), followed by Canada Goose (9,582 peak count). Other waterfowl species that use the lake include Mallard, Gadwall, teal, scaup, Bufflehead, goldeneye, American Coot, and Tundra Swan.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Trumpeter Swan 1993 - 1997 FA 281 - 1,232
Waterbirds 1988 - 1990 FA 18,048 - 28,544
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
Upstream dams are thought to have contributed to significant silt build-up at the junction of the Nautley River and Fraser Lake. Before the construction of the Kenny Dam and the redirection of much of the Nechako River flow, this junction was about 4 m deep, but it is now only 1m deep. Also, swan survival through the winter is sometimes affected by the occurrence of unusually cold winters.

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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