February 22, 2018 7:23 pm

Alberta government backs off plans to close popular fishing rivers

The North Saskatchewan River.

Kendra Slugoski, Global News

The Alberta government is backing away from a proposal to close several popular fishing rivers over concerns about stocks of native trout.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says she wasn’t convinced the science was strong enough to ban angling on the Ram, Clearwater, Kakwa and North Saskatchewan rivers.

READ MORE: Alberta anglers fear stream closures coming, blame industry, recreation

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Department officials had suggested at public meetings those rivers would be closed.

Instead, Phillips says the department will undertake a review of the relevant research and identify where the conflicts between fish habitat, industrial development and recreational use are most intense.

The government will also increase funding for groups to rebuild damaged waterways and undertake public education programs.

READ MORE: Concerns over oilsands river contamination overstated: University of Alberta scientist 

She warns stream closures may be reconsidered in the future.

Scientists have long pointed out that fish populations along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and in parts of the boreal forest are fractions of what they used to be.

They say the streams are being clogged with sediment from roads, stream crossings, logging, energy development and off-highway vehicle use.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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