Alberta lifts off-roading ban


Citing an outbreak of “wet and cool weather” across parts of the province, reducing the overall fire hazard, the Alberta government has lifted most of its restrictions on off-highway vehicle (OHV) use.

The province lifted its OHV ban for “much of the province” except for its forest areas around Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray, as of 4 p.m. Thursday (May 19).

The May 6 ban had applied to recreational use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) in provincial parks and on all other public lands. “Agriculture, public safety or commercial/industrial users who operate OHVs for farming, enforcement or business purposes” were exempt.

However, the province said Thursday, “even though conditions have improved, it is still important for Albertans to do their part to prevent wildfires.”

Riders of OHVs — a category including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), four-wheel vehicles, motorcycles and “related two-wheel vehicles and amphibious machines” — need to stop frequently and check for debris around a vehicle’s exhaust, in its engine and manifold, in its wheel wells and/or under its seat.

Debris in OHV hotspots can become superheated, fall to the ground and start a wildfire, the province said.

OHV riders are also urged to carry a small fire extinguisher and collapsible shovel to put out small fires, and to ensure the machine’s spark arrester and muffler are in “good working condition.”

Any alteration to an OHV’s factory components can increase the chance of starting a wildfire and can lead to “enforcement actions,” the province said.

As of Friday afternoon (May 20, 3:15 p.m.), 17 wildfires were burning in the province.

Of those 17, two are still deemed “out of control,” including the Fort McMurray fire, which has now covered over 1.24 million acres, and one west of Janvier, between Fort McMurray and Lac la Biche, estimated at over 320 acres.

Fort McMurray, Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, Fort McMurray First Nation, Fort McKay First Nation and 19 camps north of Fort McMurray remained under a mandatory evacuation order Friday.

A “preliminary re-entry plan” has been set up, the province said, expecting Fort McMurray area residents can begin returning home June 1. –– Network

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