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Fishing for solutions: We’re restoring habitat for trout and grayling in the Rocky Mountains

October 2020 – We’re improving structures like culverts or replacing them with bridges on roads that cross creeks, streams and rivers near our conventional oil and natural gas operations on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Who’s benefiting? Fish species like trout and grayling, which as a result will be able to swim more easily to previously isolated habitat.

A culvert that restricts the natural flow of the stream
A culvert that restricts the natural
flow of the stream

Culverts are tunnel-like structures that allow a stream to flow underneath a trail, road or railroad tracks. They are needed so roads can be built across the watercourses for use by the public and by us and our peers to get to our facilities. However, culverts in many cases are too small, narrow or steep and can increase the speed of the waterflow. That can make it harder for fish to swim upstream to reach their spawning habitat.

“We’re proud that we can help address a growing issue in watercourse crossings near our operations and assist in protecting the local fish population,” says Garth Davis, Cenovus Specialist, Field Environment. “It’s a great example of the importance we place on the environment at Cenovus and in Alberta.”

A new bridge replaced the culvert, allowing the stream underneath to flow naturally
A new bridge replaced the culvert, allowing the stream underneath to flow naturally

Our Field Environment Team is compiling an inventory of watercourse crossings that could be improved and recently completed a major one. Our actions will benefit many fish species, including some sought after by recreational anglers, such as the Arctic Grayling, and other fish species that are threatened or endangered, such as the Bull Trout and the Athabasca Rainbow Trout.

This is the first of many culverts we plan to improve or replace with a bridge over time as required by the Alberta Energy Regulator and is an example of Alberta’s rigorous regulatory framework that makes our province a leader in environmental performance.