Language selection

Search

Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes Priority Area

Map of Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes priority areas. See text that follows.
Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes Priority Areas

The Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes priority area encompasses the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies in Alberta. The eastern slopes extend from the high alpine slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains down to the foothills and into the transition into the Prairies ecozone. This area forms the headwaters of the Saskatchewan-Nelson Rivers drainage basin. The Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes priority area contains five species of fish that have been listed under the Species at Risk Act or assessed as at-risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

Species at risk in this priority area are affected by habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and reduced water quality (e.g. sedimentation) and quantity (e.g. water level changes). Recreational activities and invasive species are also threats to native species in this priority area. For example, Invasive trout species are outcompeting native trout species for habitat and resources. Climate change is an additional threat to this priority area, as it has the potential to worsen existing threats and introduce other unforeseen impacts. Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk (CNFASAR) is supporting projects led by local organizations to address these threats within the Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes Priority Area.

Conservation efforts currently underway

The Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes priority area is home to several native trout species that are currently experiencing population declines, including the Athabasca Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat Trout. In an effort to recover these native trout populations, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) is leading the Alberta Native Trout Recovery Initiative to mitigate key threats to these species, such as sedimentation and habitat fragmentation. The focus of this project is to prioritize recovery actions by species and watershed based on modelling. This initiative will address threats to native trout through recovery actions, such as habitat improvement and restoration stocking. By improving the habitat and population status of these native trout species, this project will benefit many other aquatic species and ecosystems throughout the priority area.

Given the importance of agriculture in Alberta, it is important to engage with farmers and ranchers in the development of solutions to protect aquatic species at risk and their habitats. A project led by ALUS Canada is engaging with farmers and ranchers within the Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes priority area and throughout the Prairies to implement best management practices (BMPs) on land that is adjacent to waterbodies to restore or enhance aquatic habitat. Specific project BMPs include the establishment of riparian buffers, wetland construction and the installation of control structures to reduce agricultural runoff and sedimentation. As a result of this project, recovery actions will be implemented on over 5,358 km2 of habitat.

As invasive species threaten waterbodies within the Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes priority area and throughout the Prairies, collaboration between provinces is necessary to have a united management strategy to prevent the introduction and proliferation of problematic invasive species. A project led by the Invasive Species Centre is fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing across the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and providing additional resources and capacity to support provincial invasive species management programs. This project will help establish a coordinated approach to manage the spread of invasive species throughout the Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes priority area and beyond.

The CNFASAR-funded projects throughout the Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes priority area are supporting aquatic species at risk through habitat restoration, stewardship and invasive species management. The outcomes of these projects will not only benefit aquatic species that are currently at risk, but also help prevent the decline of additional species and their habitats. Through mitigating identified threats, such as habitat degradation, habitat fragmentation and invasive species, these projects are contributing to the protection and recovery of aquatic species at risk and their habitats within the Rocky Mountains’ Eastern Slopes priority area.

Learn more about projects in this area

Alberta Native Trout Recovery Initiative

Alberta Native Trout Recovery Initiative

Recipient: Alberta Environment and Parks

Project goal: The Alberta’s Native Trout Recovery Initiative is a four-year fish conservation initiative aimed at recovering populations of native trout in the Eastern Slopes of Alberta.

The program includes a range of activities including the restoration and rehabilitation of aquatic species at risk habitats and assessment work to inform how best to mitigate threats to the species at risk in those areas. Activities also include the construction and development of measures to minimize and mitigate threats to species at risk, and include monitoring and reporting on the outcomes of the work. 

Through this initiative, the partnerships between government and non-government organizations is expanding to include Indigenous partners, municipalities, industry, and others. The goal is to align and support recovery actions for aquatic species at risk across multiple agencies with an interest in these landscapes.

Fund Allocation: $4,909,536

Time Frame: 4 years

Species that benefit from this project:

Engaging farmers and ranchers to improve ecosystems for aquatic species at risk in the Southern Prairies

Engaging farmers and ranchers to improve ecosystems for aquatic species at risk in the Southern Prairies

Recipient: ALUS Canada

Project goal: The objective of this four-year project is to increase stewardship and recovery actions for aquatic species at risk in the Southern Prairies Priority Area, within the South Saskatchewan River and the Assiniboine River watershed basins. The project aims to partner with farmers and ranchers where the agricultural landscape intersects with key freshwater aquatic habitats for aquatic species at risk.

The project involves partnering with farmers to promote restoration or enhancement of waterbodies and waterways. This includes the establishment of riparian buffers and the construction of wetland areas.

Project activities are reducing agricultural runoff and sedimentation thereby improving aquatic habitat downstream and immediately adjacent to project actions. Project actions are enabling an entire suite of ecosystem services, including additional wildlife habitat, clean water and carbon sequestration.

Educational resources are being developed through collaboration with community Partnership Advisory Committees and technical advisory groups. The resources emphasize the impacts of agriculture and need to apply Beneficial Management Practices to reduce and reverse the adverse effects of agriculture on aquatic species at risk.

Fund Allocation: $983,000

Time Frame: 4 years

Species that benefit from this project:

Media announcement:

The Government of Canada Takes Action to Protect Aquatic Species at Risk in the Southern Prairie

Bridging research and management to reduce invasive species threats to aquatic species at risk

Bridging research and management to reduce invasive species threats to aquatic species at risk

Recipient: Invasive Species Centre

Project goal:This four-year project supports invasive species prevention and management activities in the Southern Prairies Priority Area across the three Prairie provincial partners, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, that will benefit aquatic species at risk. Activities include (1) working to identify needs and opportunities in invasive species risk assessment, management, and communications with a view to aligning with species at risk recovery actions; (2) providing risk assessment and analysis, impact assessment, screening level risk assessment and socio-economic analysis support to inform management approaches for priority species at risk; (3) supporting invasive species prevention and monitoring programs to increase frequency of sampling and program capacity; and (4) reviewing communications to enhance messaging effectiveness and increase outreach.

As the project progresses and needs are further identified by the participating Provinces, new tools will be developed and existing tools will be enhanced. These will include consideration of (1) support for training and communications on freshwater mussel identification, species at risk identification, invasive species identification, mussel control methods, reporting and mapping tools, citizen science and invasive species prevention; (2) liaisons that provide most recent, relevant evidence-based information to partners; and (3) support for dissemination of a toolkit of templates, instructions and tools for future use beyond the four year scope of this project.

Fund Allocation: $983,000

Time Frame: 4 years

Species that benefit from this project:

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:
Date modified: