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Radium Hot Springs Visitor Guide

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Making the trip into the community of Radium, many are quickly mesmerized by the scenic landscape that consumes their view. Making up part of that landscape is one of the largest intact wetlands in North America — the Columbia Wetlands. The Columbia Wetlands are known as one of the world's most precious lands on a world scale. Winding their way through the valley bottom between the Purcell and Rocky Mountains, they are the source of the longest fl owing river emptying into the Pacifi c Ocean in North America known as the Columbia. The river starts at Columbia Lake, south of Radium near the Village of Canal Flats, and travels north, fi rst through the stretch of wetlands near Fairmont Hot Springs to Lake Windermere, then north again from Invermere to Golden, creating the north- ern stretch of wetlands to which Radium Hot Springs o ers great exposure in a variety of ways. One of the living jewels of the Columbia Valley, the Columbia Wetlands are home to as many as 216 di erent animal spe- cies including hundreds of fi sh, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Among them, 300 pairs of blue heron make these wetlands their home, making it the second largest concentration of great blue herons in Western Canada. In spring 2017, over 26,000 birds were counted by volunteers for the Columbia Wetlands Waterbird Survey, which tracks the spring migratory birds each year. Visitors may be surprised to fi nd out that the wetlands are also home to moose, wolf, coyotes and larger predatory mammals such as black and grizzly bears that use the wetlands as a source of feeding. Unknown to many, the Columbia Wetlands are the only free-fl owing section of the Columbia River, which has 14 hydroelectric dams powering approx- imately half of British Columbia's total electricity. It's for this reason — dovetailed with the internationally recognized wildlife present in the area — that conservationists have fought hard in recent history to protect and preserve the wetlands for the future. Over 20 years ago, the Columbia Wetlands fi rst earned the protection of the B.C. government before it was granted full recognition as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance on World Environment Day in 2005 (the Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands). As the largest wetland in British Columbia, the Columbia Wetlands qualifi ed for all eight Ramsar criteria. Continued on page 28 WETLANDS WONDER Visitors may be surprised to fi nd out that the wetlands are also home to moose, wolf, coyotes and larger predatory mammals such as black and grizzly bears that use the are the only free-fl owing section of the Columbia River, which has 14 hydroelectric dams powering approx- imately half of British Columbia's total electricity. It's for this reason — dovetailed with the internationally recognized wildlife present in the area — that conservationists have fought COLUMBIA WETLANDS - KRISTIN MCCAULEY GREAT BLUE HERON - WINGS OVER THE ROCKIES R a d i u m H o t S p r i n g s Vi s i t o r G u i d e 2 0 1 7 • 27

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