Fire permits will be required March 1
The province’s wildfire season starts early by requiring permits for fires in the Alberta Forest Protection Area after March 1.
Permits are free and available at any Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) office. They are not needed for campfires.
The permits result from a recommendation to prepare for fire season earlier contained in last year’s review of the provincial response to the three fires that entered and destroyed much of Slave Lake in May 2011.
The Alberta Forest Protection Area covers about 60 per cent of the province including from Rocky Mountain House west and south to the national parks and most for the West Country.
ESRD says in a release last year’s forest fires burned about 926,612 acres, about 1.5 times more than the five-year average of 531,257 acres.
It also cautions recreational users to fully put out wildfires since nearly 80 per cent of last year’s fires were human-caused compared to the average of 60 per cent.
Clearwater County reported 13 wildfires last May, most started by careless people.
In May 2011, Crimson Lake Provincial Park was evacuated after a wildfire burned out of control.
Central Albertans looking to minimize fire risks near their homes are encouraged to try FireSmart preventive measures.
“Even if you’re not within the Forest Protection Area, you can still practice FireSmart measures,” said ESRD spokesperson Whitney Exton.
“Anyone can cut dead grass, prune the first two metres of tree branches from the ground up and move woodpiles from next to your home.”
In addition to ESRD doing the work itself, such as clearing deadfall in the Crimson Lake Provincial Park and Nordegg areas, the province offers FireSmart grants to municipalities.
Mountain View County received $15,000 last year for a FireSmart training exercise.
More information on the FireSmart program and wildfire prevention is available online at www.firesmartcanada.ca and srd.alberta.ca/Wildfire/FireSmart/