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Kimiwan Lake (AB055)


Kimiwan Lake (AB055)

McLennan, Alberta

Latitude 55.754°N
Longitude 116.918°W
Altitude 619 - 625m
Area 51.36km²

Site Description

Kimiwan Lake is a large freshwater lake situated beside the town of McLennan, Alberta, about 135 km northeast of Grande Prairie. Along most of the shoreline, the lakeshore is characterized by marsh and mud flat habitats. The surrounding landscape is a mix of agricultural land and boreal forest, with dominant species including White Spruce, Balsam Fir, and Trembling Aspen.


In the spring of 1988, two counts of over 20,000 shorebirds were recorded at Kimiwan Lake, including a one-day maximum of 27,067. The actual numbers of shorebirds moving through this site is likely much large considering the likelihood of high turnover rates. During the 1988 surveys, the most abundant species were Pectoral Sandpipers (7,000 or perhaps 5% of the world's population of this poorly known species), and dowitchers (12,000, most probably Long-billed, which would represent about 2% of the world's population).

Kimiwan Lake is also important for waterfowl during the summer moulting and fall migration periods. During the fall, one-day counts of greater than 20,000 waterfowl are made regularly, with the species including dabbling and diving ducks, Canada Geese, White-fronted Geese, Tundra and Trumpeter swans. During the summer, counts of moulting waterfowl often range from 5,000 to 20,000. However, total numbers of moulting waterfowl using the lake may be much larger. In 1998, approximately 50,000 dabbling ducks were collected after a probable outbreak of avian botulism. Total waterfowl losses in 1998 were estimated at 200,000 birds.

In addition, the lake also supports large numbers of other species. Over 5,000 non-breeding Franklin's Gulls (about 1% of the world's estimated population) have been recorded at the lake during the mid-summer. Songbird monitoring in 2000 found at least 66 species utilizing the nearshore forested habitats.

Conservation Issues

Water levels of the lake are regulated by diversion ditches and canals. Agricultural activities including annual cropping and livestock grazing have increased along the shorelines in recent years. Approximately 93% of the shoreline is currently influenced by agriculture. Recent petroleum extraction activities have increased to the east. On the south shore of the lake, within the town of McLennan, there is a well-developed wildlife-viewing site with boardwalks, viewing platforms and interpretive signage. The interpretive centre is staffed full time through the summer months and provides opportunities for education and promotion of local conservation issues.

Kimiwan Lake has been recognized as an environmentally significant area (ESA) at the provincial level, and it is the most northerly of the potential Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network sites in the prairies. Hunting of game birds is prohibited within 0.8 km of the lake.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Pectoral Sandpiper
Number Year Season
Long-billed Dowitcher
Number Year Season
Number Year Season