Coal Mines and Cutthroat Trout

Coal Mines and Cutthroat Trout

Check out our most recent video, where we went and fished for native Cutthroat Trout in many different tributaries (and their tributaries) of the Oldman and Castle watersheds of Southern Alberta.

These fish face a myriad of threats from poaching, overfishing, habitat degradation, hybridization from non-native fish, and now the prospect of open-pit coal mining in the area (discussed below), all of which jeopardize the future of these special fish.

Recreational opportunities, fishing, and expansive wilderness are all part of our identities as Albertans. We wanted to explore the waterscapes that make up our critical Cutthroat Trout habitat to show people what is at stake, and what we could be losing should these coal mines go forward.

Altogether we fished 5 different streams, starting near the potential mine lease rumoured to be directly to the North of the Oldman North Recreation Area and worked our way south into the newly minted Castle Provincial Park, an area that no longer has to worry about the threat of Coal mining (although the Corbin Coal mine is still buzzing away, just over the divide).

The fishing was hot and cold, but we did manage to find some beautiful fish. Hope you enjoy!

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The value of these places goes far beyond GDP. In 2 days in Castle Park we saw hundreds of campers, dozens of kayakers, mountain bikers, equestrian trail riders, off-road users, and many other anglers, young and old. We use this land. We get so much value from this land. This is where many of us form our identities and have our most memorable experiences, and where we connect with the wilderness and learn to respect it. This is where we hunt, fish, hike, bike, camp, boat, climb; where we challenge ourselves and push our limits. We need to stand up for these places, and demand protection and proper management for the few remaining undeveloped areas to ensure these opportunities are available for future generations.

The changes to the Alberta Coal Policy have opened up 5 different leases in the headwaters of the Oldman and Livingstone to open-pit coal mining, as well as another lease near the confluence of the North and South Ram Rivers. It could be argued that these are the 4 finest Cutthroat Trout Streams in all of Alberta; is that a resource we are willing to risk? These mines would undoubtedly alter the landscapes, pollute water sources, and have impacts on wildlife communities. Not to mention air, noise, and light pollution. At such a critical time for our fisheries, the addition of coal mines could very well be the straw that breaks the camels back.

I think it is important that Albertans are made aware of these developments, whether you agree or disagree with my opinion. The legacy of these projects will last 30-60 years, and maybe longer when it comes to groundwater pollution. These decisions may seem like the right choice now, but what will we be saying in 50 years?

Just food for thought.

For those who want to know more about the potential of open pit coal mining in the province, check out the links below. They have the full story along with numbers and maps.


Tight lines and enjoy the summer fishing!

One thought on “Coal Mines and Cutthroat Trout

  1. Any new coal mining development would be a tragic loss for Alberta and beyond. I thought we we getting away from this dirty fuel. How do we stop this? I’m in!

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