IBA Skookumchuck Prairie
Skookumchuck, British Columbia
Site Summary
BC258 Latitude
49.847° N
115.741° W
800 m
125.09 km²
coniferous forest (temperate), native grassland, rivers/streams, arable & cultivated lands
Land Use:
Potential or ongoing Threats:
Afforestation, Arable farming, Urban/industrial development
IBA Criteria: Nationally Significant: Threatened Species
Conservation status: IBA Conservation Plan written/being written
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Site Description
Skookumchuck Prairie is just south of the community of Skookumchuk, in the Rocky Mountain Trench of southeastern British Columbia. It is an area of native dry open grassland in a primarily forested region. The upper Kootenay River and Highway 93/95 run in a north and south direction through the site. Alfalfa is grown on a portion of the area, to the east of this highway. A history of fire suppression has caused groves of young Ponderosa Pine and Douglas-fir to grow where previously grassland occurred.
Skookumchuck Prairie holds a breeding population of Long-billed Curlews, a nationally vulnerable species. Surveys in the late 1980s, covering the majority of the site, determined that a minimum of 22 pairs bred here. The total population, which is thought to be stable, may be slightly larger than this. This site contains about 1% of the Canadian Long-billed Curlew population. Although curlews primarily breed and feed in the grasslands, they also sometimes feed on earthworms in alfalfa fields.

American Kestrel, Lewis's Woodpecker, Western Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird and Western Meadowlark are all notable breeding birds of the area.

IBA Criteria
SpeciesT | A | I Links Date Season Number G C N
Lewis's Woodpecker 2018 FA 14
Lewis's Woodpecker 2019 SP 15 - 22
Lewis's Woodpecker 2016 - 2020 SU 10 - 30
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 grassland in Skookumchuck Prairie has been slowly diminishing as patches of Ponderosa Pine and Dougls-fir grow in former grassland areas. This encroachment is due to fire suppression over many years. Recently there has been discussion of introducing proactive management that would involve setting controlled fires.

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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