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Tuesday , 22 September 2020
An aerial picture of the Moose Lake wildfire in 2019, which would be a situation this app would alert residents of: M.D. of Bonnyville.

Province putting fire ban in all provincial parks and protected areas amidst COVID-19

An aerial picture of the Moose Lake wildfire in 2019: M.D. of Bonnyville. 

The province is looking to lessen the impact forest fires could have in Alberta this spring during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alberta Wildfire is hiring 200 additional firefighters and put in place a fire ban in all provincial parks and protected areas to combat wildfires on Tuesday.

The wildfire hazard is highest in Alberta in late April through May and over a million acres burned last year.

An additional $5 million investment is being made to hire and train these firefighters, the province said in a press release.

A fire ban in the Forest Protection Area, provincial parks and protected areas, as well as a recreational OHV ban on Crown land in the Forest Protection Area, will come into effect on Wednesday.

Fines have also doubled from $300 to $600 for not complying to the fire ban and those driving off-highway vehicles when they shouldn’t will face a $1,200 fine.

Anyone found to be non-compliant with a fire ban or OHV restriction may also have to go to court and may receive a fine up to $100,000.

These are temporary measures the province said, and will remain in place only as long as required to combat the wildfire risk and adjusted later.

Seventy-one per cent of last year’s wildfires were started by people, the province said.

FireSmart will receive a funding boost of up to $20 million to support vegetation management in the province.

The department will work with municipalities to ensure these funds are used this fiscal year.

More than 800 seasonal firefighters will join 370 year-round staff at Alberta Wildfire.

Alberta’s Forest Protection Area covers almost 60 per cent of Alberta, including most of the northern half of the province and in the Lac La Biche area.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.