About the North Central Native Trout (NCNT) Recovery Program

Alberta's North Central Native Trout (NCNT) Recovery Program is a comprehensive, long-term fish conservation initiative aimed at monitoring and recovering populations of native trout and whitefish in the central and northern watersheds of the Eastern Slopes Fish Management Zone (FMZ).

The NCNT Recovery Program is part of an integrated provincial fisheries management approach, which means it is linked to:

  • Bull trout and Athabasca rainbow trout recovery planning processes
  • Roadway Watercourse Crossings Remediation Program
  • Whirling disease and invasive species management
  • The North Central Native Trout Recovery Program is a fisheries management strategy aimed at protecting native trout populations in Alberta's north and central east slopes region.

How the NCNT Recovery Program Works

Select from the collapsible menu topics below to learn more about the North Central Native Trout Recovery Program. Also see the Program Resources section below for additional factsheets about the program.

Where the program is taking place in the Eastern Slopes FMZ

Watershed Unit Watershed
ES2
  • Clearwater River
  • Lower Ram River / North Saskatchewan River
  • Pinto Lake
  • Red Deer River
ES3
  • Berland River
  • Pembina River
ES4
  • Kakwa River

Program timeline

The North Central Native Trout Recovery Program is slated to begin in 2017 and end in 2024, with a general schedule outlined as follows:

Year Scheduled Program Actions
2017

Program begins–Watershed selection, fish and fish habitat assessments, stakeholder engagement and habitat restoration activities.

2018

Fishing closures begin, habitat restoration activities continue, fish and fish habitat assessments.

2019

Habitat restoration activities continue, fish and fish habitat assessments.

2023

Fishing closures evaluated and reviewed, pending fish assessment results and public feedback, fish and fish habitat assessments.

2024

Fish and fish habitat assessments, overall Program Summary and apply most effective management actions to other watersheds.

How focal watersheds were selected

The Eastern Slopes Fish Management Zone is home to a network of popular sportfishing rivers and waterbodies. It is also an important and popular landscape for industrial and recreational activities. This has placed enormous pressure on local fish populations and habitats, making recovery efforts in the area necessary to ensure populations remain sustainable.

Recovering fish populations is a complex and costly task. Threats limiting the abundance and distribution of fish populations, such as habitat degradation and fragmentation, can accumulate over time and overlap in a particular watershed.
Fisheries management and our stakeholders have developed a cumulative effects framework to understand which threats are most likely limiting fish populations.

Addressing these threats requires coordinated efforts that span entire watersheds within meaningful timeframes. Focusing fish population recovery efforts in a few watersheds using the best available science allows biologists, regulators, industry and stakeholders to work together more effectively and learn how to most efficiently recover fish in the face of multiple concerns.

The watersheds being monitored by the NCNT Recovery Program were selected based on three main factors:

Biological factors – how successful recovery efforts can be, based on how degraded the watershed is, and whether or not local fish populations have a reasonable chance of recovery

Economic factors – whether or not Government or stakeholder driven fish population restoration work has taken place, is taking place, or will take place in a given watershed

Social factors – a measure of the ability to change angler attitudes and actions to support sustainable fish populations in the area

Management actions in the Eastern Slopes FMZ

During the NCNT Recovery Program, the Government of Alberta and our partners and stakeholders will implement management actions in focal watersheds, with successful actions applied in subsequent watersheds over time.

Actions will address the key threats limiting bull trout, Athabasca rainbow trout, and Arctic grayling populations and will include:

  • habitat remediation and/or fishing closures
  • mitigation of sediment and phosphorous runoff to improve water quality
  • suppression of non-native fish and other aquatic invasive species

Assessment of NCNT program results

During the program, the abundance and distribution of fish populations in focal watersheds will be tracked, and local results compared with fish population targets established for each watershed in the 2017/2018 fishing season.

Native trout and grayling are expected to demonstrate, or show signs of, recovery within five years of management action implementation. All recovery efforts in the selected watersheds will be carefully recorded to determine which actions were successful and which were not. The information and knowledge gained will help address Alberta's ongoing fish management challenges.

Ongoing field activities and results of the NCNT Recovery Program will be made available to the public via the Environment and Parks and My Wild Alberta websites, and through links with other community partners.

Program highlights and future actions

Select a year below to learn what the Government of Alberta, together with partners and stakeholders, accomplished on the path towards native trout recovery and for annual reports on comprehensive fish and fish habitat assessments.

  • 2018 - 2019

    In 2018 to 2019, the North Central Native Trout program, together with partners, is planning to take a number of actions to address native trout recovery.

    Actions to address habitat threats

    • The Government of Alberta and Trout Unlimited Canada completed an extensive reclamation project on Fall Creek to prevent large erosion events that posed a serious threat to the bull trout population.
    • Roadway stream crossing assessments and initiation or completion of remediation activities across the north-central native trout range
    • Support to the Roadway Watercourse Crossings Remediation Program, focusing on the Berland River watershed
    • Inclusion of cumulative effects impacts on native trout into land use planning.

    Actions to address ecosystem threats

    • Non-native trout suppression at Pinto Lake

    Actions to improve knowledge of native trout populations and how they respond to management actions

    • Comprehensive fish and fish habitat assessments in the Clearwater River, Fall Creek, Thistle Creek, Pembina River, Mackenzie Creek, Miette River, Kakwa River, and others.
    • Partnership with University of Calgary researchers to further investigate the impacts of habitat change, overfishing, and non-native species interactions on native trout.
    • Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) review of Alberta fish species at risk cumulative effects models

    Actions to improve knowledge of the potential effects of angling mortality

    • Investigate angling post-release mortality of bull trout after immediate release, and after photo-then-release
    • Trail camera angler effort creels

    Program public engagement

    • Partnership with Paul First Nation to collect water temperature information and invertebrate samples to inform recovery actions and whirling disease risk mapping
    • Volunteer events with Trout Unlimited Canada to support habitat reclamation activities
  • 2017 - 2018

    In 2017/2018, the North Central Native Trout program, together with partners, took a number of actions to address native trout recovery.

    Actions to address habitat threats

    • The Government of Alberta and Trout Unlimited Canada initiated an extensive reclamation project on Rocky Creek to prevent large erosion events and fish stranding that posed a serious threat to the bull trout population
    • OHV trail inventories to inform future reclamation works and sustainable trail development
    • Roadway stream crossing assessments and initiation of remediation activities across the north-central native trout range
    • Support to the Roadway Watercourse Crossings Remediation Program, focusing on the Berland River watershed
    • Conducted fish rescues at perched culverts and watercourses damaged by OHVs
    • Completion of shoreline health assessments in order to address riparian damage and sedimentation entry
    • Inclusion of cumulative effects impacts on native trout into land use planning.

    Actions to address ecosystem threats

    • Non-native trout suppression at Pinto Lake.

    Actions to improve knowledge of native trout populations and their habitat

    Program public engagement

    • Over 30 presentations developed and delivered to industry, regulators, and special interest groups on native trout recovery and proposed actions
    • Two public information sessions held in Calgary and Edmonton
    • On-line public and Indigenous consultation on proposed fishing closures

Program Resources

Review additional information and links about the North Central Native Trout Recovery Program.

Factsheets and Reports

Related Information