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Klaskish River and East Creek Watersheds (BC092)


Klaskish River and East Creek Watersheds (BC092)

Kyuquot, British Columbia

Latitude 50.263°N
Longitude 127.692°W
Altitude 0 - 760m
Area 30.31km²

Site Description

The Klaskish River and East Creek watersheds are two river systems on the northern portion of the west coast of Vancouver Island. The Brooks Peninsula lies just to the south.

Western Hemlock dominates the forest in the lowest vegetation zone, although Sitka Spruce forms a narrow belt adjacent to the ocean. Western Red-cedar at lower elevations and Yellow Cedar at higher elevations are common tree species, while Amabilis Fir, Shore Pine and Red Alder also occur.


This and three other forested sites on Vancouver Island in British Columbia have been identified as IBAs for breeding Marbled Murrelets (a nationally threatened species) even though it is still uncertain whether these are the best Canadian sites for the species. Given the state of the information at this time (early 2001) it appears that these sites are probably amongst the highest quality sites, but others may be equally as good, or better. Since the species is very difficult to survey, the habitats and favoured breeding areas are poorly known. The IBA includes the whole of each watershed because Marbled Murrelets may breed in both low and high elevation areas, although most researchers believe that lower elevation forests are preferred.

In 1991, surveys were conducted at 140 sites throughout Vancouver Island. These surveys used visual and auditory detections to assess the use of an area by breeding season Marbled Murrelets. Although this method does not give population estimates and is a somewhat weak method it does give some idea of the comparative use of areas. Detection surveys in the Klaskish River and East Creek areas recorded 67 and 45 detections respectively.

In the summer of 1999, 32 watersheds along the northern half of western Vancouver Island were surveyed with radar surveys. These radar surveys are thought to be more accurate than the detection surveys as they record all the birds flying into a watershed at dawn. There is still uncertainty over whether all birds detected are using the associated watershed, but most are believed to be. Parts of the province with less steep topography than at this site can not be surveyed accurately using the radar survey method. The maximum number of murrelets recorded in these surveys was 860 in the Klaskish watershed and 227 in the East Creek watershed. The 860 birds in the Klaskish River watershed was by far the highest number recorded in the 1999 study. When a crude method of density estimation is used (number of birds/area of watershed) these two watersheds have a density of birds equal to the best watersheds in a 1996-8 Marbled Murrelet study of 20 watersheds in the Clayoquot Sound region. It should also be noted that it is not known what portion of murrelets recorded in the radar surveys are actively breeding birds.

Conservation Issues

Since these two watersheds are not in protected areas they are susceptible to logging, which is detrimental to the breeding success of Marbled Murrelets, by the removal of nesting habitat.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Marbled Murrelet
Number Year Season
860 - 1,0871999Summer