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North Central Native Trout Recovery

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

Legislative Mandate

The guiding legislation for the NCNT Recovery Program includes the provincial Fisheries (Alberta) Act and the federal Species at Risk Act. To review this legislation, visit:

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.

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Where in the Eastern Slopes FMZ will the program be taking place?

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

When will the NCNT Recovery Program be taking place in the Eastern Slopes FMZ?

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

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


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


Habitat restoration activities continue, fish and fish habitat assessments.


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


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

Why were the watersheds included in this program selected?

The Eastern Slopes Fish Management Zone is home to a network of popular sportfishing waterbodies. This popularity has placed enormous pressure on local fish populations and habitats, making recovery efforts in the area a necessity to ensure such populations remain sustainable.

Recovering fish populations in a meaningful way is a complex and costly task. Threats impacting fish population health, such as habitat degradation and fragmentation, can accumulate and overlap over time in a particular watershed, making it difficult to prioritize which threats are of most concern. Addressing these threats requires an effort that includes several watersheds at once.

Focusing fish population recovery efforts in a few watersheds using the best available science allows biologists, regulators, industry and stakeholders to work together and discover how to most efficiently recover fish in the face of multiple concerns.

How were the watersheds included in this program selected?

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

What management actions will be taking place 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

What will happen during a fishing closure?

In general, key watershed areas selected for the NCNT Recovery Program will be closed to fishing while the program is ongoing. Depending on fish population status and public feedback, some closures could be in place for five years or more.

Access to these watershed areas will be granted to the public for non-fishing recreational activities, guided by local recreation regulations.

Unless otherwise posted, stocked lakes and ponds within closed watersheds will remain open to fishing.

How will NCNT Program results be assessed?

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 Resources

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

Factsheets and Reports

Related Information


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Updated: Aug 16, 2018