Respect, safety for the West Country

With 40,000 people expected to ascend on the West Country for Victoria Day Long Weekend, local rangers are hoping they do so with respect and safety in mind.

With 40,000 people expected to ascend on the West Country for Victoria Day Long Weekend, local rangers are hoping they do so with respect and safety in mind.

Their concerns range from wildfires to environmental impact, littering and bad decisions made by those enjoying themselves.

“We’re welcoming many people to our backyard and … we hope that they use it with respect,” said Barry Shellian, a wildfire ranger and information officer for the Rocky Wildfire Management Area.

On Wednesday, Clearwater was upgraded to a high wildfire hazard rating, resulting from cured wild grass and high winds.

However, Shellian says if the forecasted wet weather swings through over the next few days, that rating could drop to low by Saturday.

There is one active fire, burning 0.1 hectares by the Brazeau Dam, but it is considered held.

On Wednesday, crews completed a prescribed 172-acre burn in Upper Clearwater, as part of a 400-hectare burn scheduled for the area.

There are no fire bans in place in Central Alberta and only three in the province, in Black Diamond, County of Paintearth and the Municipal District of Peace No. 135.

There are several fire advisories around Hwy 16 and north of Edmonton.

Still, it does not mean people can let up on their awareness regarding fires.

Last year, more than 100 campfires were found by volunteers still burning in the region after the May long weekend. Fires can also start as inadvertently as by a spark from an ATV or discarded cigarette.

To help combat this, wildlife partners — the Environment and Sustainable Resource Department and Clearwater County, among others — will be distributing rubber soaker bags as part of their Sasquatch program. These bags can be filled with water to help put out campfires, but are also multi-purpose as they are durable enough to tote supplies around or be used to wash off ATVs, instead of driving them through streams.

Shellian is hopeful people become educated about their surroundings before they head out, pointing to a new information page on the ESRD called Know B4 You Go.

“Folks can find out many of the conditions for the trails, what’s open, what might be closed out there,” he said. “We really want people using respect when they’re using the land.”

Respecting the environment is a major issue this weekend.

People burning objects like garbage that give off harmful fumes or leaving the wreckage of their campsites behind are a big problem every May long weekend. It is preferred that people take their refuse home with them. But for the weekend, ESRD has partnered with a number of industry agencies and will have garbage bins set up throughout the region to make disposal simple.

Shellian also wants people to be mindful of environmentally sensitive areas like streams and their embankments, and not to go quading in these areas.

Local rangers and volunteers will be out en masse to not just enforce regulations and bylaws, but to reward those who are being responsible.

The other big issue is the spike in injuries from quading and other activities during this time of year, and Shellian says it is important for people to remember to wear helmets and make smart decisions.

“That effects all of us as citizens when people have to respond to ATV accidents out there,” he said. “We want people to take care of themselves this weekend.”

jaldrich@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Candlelight vigil in Red Deer honours Sri Lanka Easter bombing victims

Dozens showed up to the event at City Hall Thursday night

Several Red Deer businesses’ phone/fax lines taken over by ‘spoofers’

Same ‘prank’ calls were made as happened with RedCliff RCMP

Red Deer apartment project opposed by some neighbours

Two buildings proposed for a site in Normandeau with existing four apartment complexes

Red Deer’s osprey cam celebrities are back

FortisAlberta has webcam set up at nest created as part of avian protection program

Red Deer PCN Women’s Fun Run introduces Community Diaper Dash

Central Albertans will make a dash in diapers to bring lunches to… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Opinion: Schools can’t be exempt from scrutiny

This weekend’s meeting of the Alberta School Councils’ Association promises to be… Continue reading

Bishop now the Stars goalie trying to beat Blues in playoffs

Ben Bishop grew up rooting for the St. Louis Blues before being… Continue reading

Nashville gets its chance to step up for NFL draft

NASHVILLE — Broadway in downtown Nashville is as lively a place as… Continue reading

The Cranberries, still in mourning, return for the last time

NEW YORK — Whether or not there would be a final Cranberries’… Continue reading

Dance studio owner in dispute with Burton Cummings fined for noise ticket

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The owner of a dance fitness studio who… Continue reading

Gardening: Time and effort key to buying garden plants

Greenhouses, garden centers and box stores are set to start selling bedding… Continue reading

Montreal native Nicholas Latifi off to solid start on Formula 2 race circuit

Practice makes perfect for Canadian Nicholas Latifi. The 23-year-old Montreal auto racer… Continue reading

Most Read