It's Alberta Forest Week! Approximately 60% of Alberta is forested and this land base is vital to the Albertan lifestyle, serving our forest industry, wildlife and recreational needs. This week is intended to highlight the values of conservation and stewardship as well as the environmental benefits of our trees and forests.
Why not take a few moments within your week to celebrate our province's beautiful forests? There are a number of ways to celebrate with your family and loved ones.
Due to the warm temperatures, lack of significant rainfall and strong winds, the wildfire danger in the Peace River Forest Area remains HIGH. Any fires that start in the dried, cured grasses and forest vegetation will spread very quickly under windy conditions.
So far this season, there have been seven wildfires in the Peace River Forest Area, all but two of which have been extinguished.
Our firefighters and aircraft were also able to help control a mutual aid fire yesterday.
For more information on the wildfire situation across the province of Alberta, visit: wildfire.alberta.ca.
HAZARD REDUCTION BURNING
Over the next several weeks, firefighters will be burning areas of dry grass in and around many communities in the Peace River Forest Area. These burns are conducted by trained firefighters and under specific conditions to ensure they are controlled and to minimize smoke. Spring grass burning lessens the risk of human–caused fires and helps protect homes and communities from future wildfires.
FIRE BAN IN EFFECT
As part of Alberta Wildfire's Response Plan to COVID-19, a fire ban was issued for the Forest Protection Area of Alberta effective April 15th at 2:00 pm. This measure aims to reduce the number of human caused wildfires, as most if not all wildfires in the early spring are caused by human activity.
This is part of a number of actions the department is implementing to help mitigate wildfire risks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking action in advance to reduce the number of human-caused wildfires will allow Alberta Wildfire to make the best possible use of resources when the availability of firefighters could be reduced because of the pandemic.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry will be monitoring conditions, including the availability of firefighting crews and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fire ban will remain in effect until conditions improve.
• wood campfires on public lands.
• wood campfires on private land and provincial campgrounds.
• backyard firepits
• barbeques with charcoal briquettes.
• propane / natural gas powered appliances
• open flame CSA approved oil devices
• wood fires in an enclosed facility or device, which have a chimney with a spark arrestor
Please note: All devices must be CSA approved and used as per manufacturer standards. An enclosed facility or device is one that is fully contained with a chimney that has a spark arrestor. Users are still responsible for care and attendance of all devices and should reduce their use during fire restrictions and bans. Approved activities or devices will not prevent potential prosecution or litigation if the user or device starts a wildfire.
Anyone found to be non-compliant of the fire ban may receive a violation ticket of $600.
All current fire permits are suspended. Some allowances may be made for essential agricultural and industrial burning at the discretion of a Forest Officer. Please note: The burning of yard debris or the use of burn barrels is not considered to be essential burning.
Please call 780-624-6190 for more information on fire permits in the Peace River Forest Area.
Some of the municipalities adjacent to the Forest Protection Area have also put fire bans in place. For more information or to see if their are restrictions where you live, work or recreate, visit www.albertafirebans.ca visit your municipality's website or social media accounts or contact your local municipal office.
As of right now, all Albertans may enjoy using their off-highway vehicles on public land until conditions change.
An off-highway vehicle restriction in the Forest Protection Area will be reintroduced if there is an increase in the hazard level. This phased approach will allow us to address the wildfire risk area-by-area, allowing Albertans the freedom to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. We will re-evaluate daily.
COVID-19 AND WILDFIRE
The Incident Management Team developing the COVID-19 Response Plan is identifying key areas and making the necessary adjustments to wildfire operations.
New safety measures are being developed in cooperation with workplace health and safety officials. Key areas such as training, warehousing, aviation, and detection are some of the many areas under review to ensure staff safety.
The Peace River Forest Area office is currently closed to the public. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 780-624-6190.
Thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate through these difficult times.
For more information, visit:
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Wildfire Information Officer