EDMONTON - Effective immediately, all OHVs (off highway vehicles) are being banned from all public forest areas in southern Alberta, including provincial parks, to reduce the risk of wildfires.
The ban extends from south of the Red Deer River along the mountains and foothills, to the northern boundary of Waterton Lakes National Park.
That means, that no OHVs will be allowed, even on public trails, in the Castle Parks, Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Park, McLean Creek Public Recreation Area, Mount Livingstone and Beehive Natural Areas.
Exceptions include using off highway vehicles for work purposes, Treaty Rights and emergency response.
Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, says the fire hazard in the southern part of the province is high to extreme right now.
"We haven't seen numbers like this in southern Alberta since 2003, when the Lost Creek Wildfire burned over 20,000 hectares of forest and threatened communities in the Crowsnest Pass area. That fire started late in the summer in conditions that resembled what we're seeing right now, and burned well into the fall. We need to do everything we can, to prevent that type of fire from happening again."
Chad Morrison, Provincial Wildfire Manager, says there have already been some concerning situations.
"Even with fire bans on, we've still had a few fires occur in the Calgary area. The majority of these have been abandoned campfires, but this last week, we also believe we had one that was caused by an off highway vehicle."
Right now, Alberta has 689 firefighters, 69 helicopters, 40 pieces of heavy equipment and 18 air tankers available across the province.
Fires are not permitted in many parts of the province, including campfires in campgrounds, until furthur notice. Only gas or propane stoves/barbeques and portable propane fire pits are allowed.
Anyone who violates the ban, could face a $287 ticket.
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