Homathko River-Tatlayoko Protected Area

History

First Nations: The Protected Area lies within the traditional territories of the Tsilhqot’in (Chilcotin) peoples of the Chilcotin Plateau, and the Homalco peoples of the Homathko River. The Chilcotin peoples were traditionally semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers, and traveled seasonally according to food availability. The Homalco peoples occupied the Homathko River Valley below Waddington’s Canyon. There is no evidence of trade between these groups. Traditional aboriginal routes between the coast and the interior along the Mosley and Homathko Valleys were used by both the Tsilhqot’in and the Homalco peoples.

Settlement: The first non-native recorded history of the area occurred in the mid 1800’s when Alfred Waddington and his crews began to look for a route which would link BC’s coast with the Cariboo Goldfields. Construction on the trail from Bute Inlet to the Fraser through Waddington Canyon began in 1862. The first year of construction saw over 50 km of road built, including many bridges. However, by 1863, snow and spring runoff had washed away most of the bridges. Remains of the Waddington Road can still be found on the lower stretches of the Homathko River.

In 1864, several of Waddington’s men were killed by some Tsilhquot’in men. The site of this skirmish between Waddington’s men and the First Nations is within the Protected Area, and is sometimes still known as Murderer’s Bar.

Cultural Heritage

Conservation

Homathko River-Tatlayoko Protected Area is one of the only protected areas in BC that spans the transition from the wet, mild coastal climate to the dry, harsh climate of the Chilcotin Plateau. This variability in climate results in a wealth of different landscapes. Valley bottom areas include extensive wetlands, and ancient hemlock, red-cedar and Douglas-fir forests. Low elevation lakes in the area include the 23 km long Tatlayoko Lake, with its aquamarine waters and high mountain backdrop carved by glaciers.

The Homathko River-Tatlayoko Protected Area protects an important low elevation wildlife corridor through the Coast Range, and is therefore critical in sustaining wildlife populations in the surrounding area. The wetlands along Mosley Creek provide valuable moose habitat and migration corridors for other species, such as grizzly bear. A number of the area’s creeks and rivers support indigenous fish populations, while scattered wetlands provide important staging areas for waterfowl and other birds.

Wildlife

Wildlife habitat in the Protected Area is remarkably diverse, incorporating moist hemlock forests, dry Douglas-fir forests and extensive wetlands. Old growth forests provide abundant forage and protection from deep snow for mule deer, mountain goat, and moose during winter. Mule deer migrate to alpine areas in summer, and moose can be found in open aspen forests near ponds and wetlands. Alpine valleys in the area support mountain goats, and herds of 20 or more are occasionally seen. Grizzly bears are typically found along the main watercourses, and also use the alpine meadows extensively in summer. The Homathko and Mosley Valleys are important grizzly migration corridors through the Coast Range. These areas are also used by grizzlies moving between salmon runs on the Homathko and Chilko Rivers.

Creeks, rivers, and wetlands also support fish, bird, and amphibian species. Wild, indigenous bull trout are found in Mosley Creek, Dumbell Lake and the Homathko River. Dolly varden and rainbow trout are also abundant. A large variety of waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds are also found in and surrounding the Protected Area, including the bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, osprey, Canada goose, great blue heron, woodpecker, and flycatcher. There are also trumpeter swan staging areas in the Homathko Valley.