Ellis Island Ecological Reserve Purpose Statement

Posted March 15, 2003 | Categories : 134,Reports,Species List |

The Ellis Island Ecological Reserve is located in Fraser Lake, 42 km west of Vanderhoof, adjacent to Highway 16. The ecological reserve encompasses the whole of Ellis Island, less than 1 ha in size, and protects a vulnerable gull nesting colony for research purposes.

see the full PDF:ellis_ps

Fraser Lake, about 50 km2 in size, drains eastward into the Nechako River. Ellis Island, 600 m from its southern shore, is low and egg-shaped. Much of the surface of this heavily glaciated island is bare rock.

The major feature of the ecological reserve is its nesting colony of herring and ring-billed gulls. The island is one of only two ring-billed gull colonies in the province. The species has been nesting here since 1985. In addition, Caspian terns nest on the island, one of only four nesting locales for the species in the province. The only other occurrences of the species as a breeding bird are at two locations on the Fraser River delta, and at Shuswap Lake. There may be no more than 45 pairs breeding in the province.

Common loons, mallards, northern pintails, spotted sandpipers and common crows also nest on the island. Other birds seen, some of which probably nest, include the Rufous hummingbird, tree swallow, orange-crowned warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, Wilson’s warbler, savannah sparrow and ruddy turnstone.

Vegetation is comprised of scrubby aspen – cottonwood stands with a dense shrub understory, dense shrub thickets, and grassy areas. Most of the gull nests are on rocky sites on the northwest part of the island.

The ecological reserve was established in March 1991.

Primary Role

The primary role of Ellis Island Ecological Reserve is to protect a vulnerable gull nesting colony for research purposes.

Known Management Issues


Recreational use impacts on bird nesting and vegetation cover

Monitor recreational use and resulting impacts.
The ecological reserve has been signed requesting boaters not to land on the island.
Information should be provided within the schools and community regarding the impacts of visiting the ecological reserve.
Investigate the need to close the island to public access, at least during the breeding season.

No presence

Requires an Ecological Reserve Warden or Stewardship Group who ideally live on Fraser Lake.



see the full PDF:ellis_ps