Alberta fire ban and off-highway vehicle restrictions eased ahead of long weekend

The Alberta government said Thursday the fire ban and off-highway vehicle restrictions issued earlier this month were being eased in many areas of the province.

The government says wet, cool weather in some areas has reduced the wildfire hazard.

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    The fire ban and OHV restrictions remained in place for the Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray Forest areas. In the parts of Alberta’s Forest Protection Area where the fire ban is still in effect, portable propane fire pits and gas or propane stoves and BBQs designed for cooking or heating are allowed. All open fires are still prohibited.

    Cities, municipalities or federal lands like national parks may still have fire bans or restrictions in place.

    On Tuesday, wet and cool weather in the Lac La Biche Forest Area allowed the province to adjust the boundaries of the fire ban and off-highway vehicle restriction.

    As of Tuesday, May 24, the fire ban and OHV restriction will no longer be in effect in portions of the Lac La Biche area south of Fort McMurray.

    The ban and restrictions remained in place for the Fort McMurray Forest Area.

    The Alberta fire ban map boundaries as of Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

    Courtesy: Alberta Government

    A province-wide fire ban was issued May 5 due to extremely dry conditions.

    Minister of Environment and Parks Shannon Phillips said the step, while rare, was necessary to protect the dry forest regions and make sure essential resources aren’t being pulled away from other wildfires burning in Alberta, including the massive wildfire in Fort McMurray.

    READ MORE: Edmonton air quality affected by Fort McMurray wildfire smoke

    On May 5, Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee announced a province-wide ban on the recreational use of off-highway vehicles due to their fire risk.

    Larivee said the ban applies only to recreational use on public land and provincial parks, including designated off-highway vehicle trails.

    The ban did not apply to agricultural, commercial or industrial use, Larivee said. Nor will it apply to Indigenous people using off-highway vehicles for farming, business operations or traditional use.

    Watch below: Municipal affairs minister announces province-wide ban on use of recreational highway vehicles

    “Alberta is very hot and very dry. And we know that often, we have had in the past, off-highway vehicle use has led to the sparking of fires,” Phillips said during her media address Thursday.

    “Many Albertans have asked, ‘What can I do to help?’ This is something that they can do.”

    READ MORE: Where Fort McMurray fire evacuees can get help and information

    The province has also banned the use of incendiary targets, often used in target practice, on Crown land. These also pose a fire risk.

    “They look a lot like a coaster. You tape them onto a tree or something like that and you shoot them with a bullet and they explode,” Oneil Carlier, minister of Agriculture and Forestry, explained.

    The fire hazard map of Canada as of May 5, 2016.

    Courtesy: Natural Resources Canada

    Visit the government of Alberta’s website for the very latest information on the wildfire status across Alberta and the current fire ban situation.

    You can also download the Alberta Wildfire app for Android and Apple for real-time.

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