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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Humans Cause 40% of Wildfires

Highlights From the Legislature:
Tidbits from Hansard:
Monday May 12, 2008

The following question and answer yesterday was interesting considering the human cost of wildfires in Alberta. Worth noting is 40% of wildfires are caused by human activity. The fire that recently threatened Kelowna was caused by a guy throwing a lit cigarette out of his vehicle.

Mr. Xiao: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My next question is to the
Minister of Sustainable Resource Development. Fire safety is a
concern for the summer months, whether you are at home or on a
vacation in the great Canadian outdoors.
With the May long
weekend rapidly approaching, can the minister explain what this
government is doing to minimize the human cost of wildfires in
Alberta that can threaten towns and our communities?


Dr. Morton: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for that important
question. With the May long weekend approaching – you’re
absolutely right – prevention of wildfires is a high priority.
Forty
per cent of all the forest fires in Alberta have a human cause
. Our
department, Sustainable Resource Development, has developed a
group of educational materials called FireSmart. They’re available
on our website. They’re for cottages, homes, and also campers.
They’re also on the new respect the land web page that we’ve talked
about before, and also they’ll be handed out by our staff at the
various entrances to parks and campgrounds this long weekend.

Good question! Is the FireSmart education program enough? Is it time to consider a smoking ban while driving through our forests and in our provincial campgrounds and National Parks? With a summer drought, high temperatures and the growing impact of climate change like the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation dry and dead trees are going to be a tinderbox.