Natural History of Richmond, British Columbia

Iona Beach Regional Park and Adjacent Sandspit

This site supports rare plant associations that are red-listed in British Columbia

Read about restoration of Iona Beach

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Invasive purple loosestrife in outer ponds
Honkenya peploides, Iona Beach sand spit
The ponds at Iona Beach with purple loosestrife. Honckenya peploides, found adjacent to log piles. Parentucellia viscosa (yellow glandweed), found in dunes.


Iona Beach Regional Park is located in west Richmond adjacent to the Vancouver International Airport and the Iona Island sewage treatment ponds. The park includes the federally-owned southern jetty which provides a four kilometer walk out into Georgia Strait. This jetty provides excellent viewing opportunities for oceanic birds.  A second, federally-owned jetty (the north jetty) was originally constructed as a rockwall to divide the river, however sand accumulation  has resulted in the development of a small sand spit that supports a developing sand dune ecosystem. 

Two artifical ponds have been constructed in the park that aim at restoring marsh vegetation and providing wildlife habitat, and they are a significant stopover spot for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl.  Numerous rare birds have been  spotted in the park and vicinity, including white pelican, long-tailed jaeger, ruff and yellow-headed blackbirds.  A breeding population of yellow-headed blackbirds is found here.  Daily birding lists are maintained in the kiosk in the sewage treatment plant. 

In the western portion of the north jetty, beyond the log salvage operation, there is a developing small sand dune system with associated beach communities. The provincially rare large headed sedge (Carex macrophylla) plant association is found here, along with Plantago maritima, and Salsola kali. The large-headed sedge plant association is listed by the BC Conservation Data Centre In the narrow strip of sand beach that has formed along the southern flank of the jetty, common beach species found include Cakile edentula and Ambrosia chamissonis, plus three small "clumps" of Honckenya peploides (this is the only station we know of for this species in the Lower Mainland). On the north flank of the jetty, the dune system drops abruptly to the Fraser River, where a narrow bank of shoreline marsh communities intermix with narrow beach strands.  The marsh communities are dominated by Typha latifolia mixed with Lythrum salicaria, Aster douglasii, and pockets of Scirpus americanus.

The narrow sand beach runs along the south shore of the Iona sandspit.  A log salvage operation is active here. Along the southern edge of the salvage operation, push outs into the fragile beach communities are common, and in some spots the operation abuts the storm tideline.  The populations of Honkenya peploides occur immediately adjacent to these log piles.

A panoramic shot of this site is available.

low dunes on Iona Island, photo by Brian Klinkenberg

Saline dune meadow with large-headed sedge.

Low dunes at Iona Beach with Scotch Broom.  


Iona Beach and Log Salvage



For detailed park information, visit the GVRD (Metro Vancouver) website.

View a map of the park

A checklist of the birds of Iona Island is available.


Page updated January 2009. Contact us