Fire ban lifted, spring seeding progresses
The recent weather conditions nearly resulted in a fire ban for May long weekend campers, but at 3 p.m. on Friday the County of St. Paul lifted its ban, and downgraded to a fire advisory.
“The fire advisory allows for campfires in a contained fire receptacle only,” said information posted on the County of St. Paul website on Friday afternoon. The county had put a complete fire ban in place on May 16 but the cooler weather and a bit of moisture on Friday resulted in the ban being lifted, said Dennis Bergheim, the director of environmental emergency services with the County of St. Paul.
Also, the longer-range forecast for the weekend was cooler than what had been predicted earlier in the week and the winds had died down a bit, said Bergheim.
Provincial campgrounds were still allowing fires within the county, and forest protected areas had lifted their fire ban on Friday afternoon too, allowing for campfires. So, the county decided to make a similar change, making the rules the same across the board for all campers in the area.
“People just have to use common sense,” said Bergheim.
The recent weather was proving to be good for farmers who, as of late last week, were nearly half done spring seeding. Bergheim, who is also the County of St. Paul agriculture fieldman, estimated most farmers had about two weeks left to go in the 2012 spring seeding season.
“We had a good couple of weeks,” said Bergheim, adding that seeding started a little late because of the cool spring weather. He said at this point, there is a lot of canola in the ground, and “overall, it’s going quite well.”
The little bit of moisture the area got last week was also welcome. Farmers are now hoping for June and July rains, much like what happened last year, said Bergheim. Areas within the county got between three millimeters to half an inch of rain last Wednesday evening.
Residents living within Town of St. Paul limits were allowed to have fires in their backyards and were not affected by the fire ban last week. But, fire pits do have to meet requirements. They must be made of some sort of metal container and have a metal screen acting as a spark arrester, and they have to meet setback requirements, said St. Paul Fire Chief Trevor Kotowich.
The phones were ringing off the hooks last week, with residents calling to ask questions about the fire ban. Kotowich said people are free to call the county, the fire hall, or visit the Alberta Fire Bans website to get the most up-to-date information.
Bergheim said it does get confusing for people because provincial parks and protected forested areas were allowing campfires in properly “engineered fire pits” leading into the weekend.
If campers are unsure of the rules in place, they should ask if there are any bans in place for the specific park they are visiting, recommended Bergheim.
A handful of other municipalities in the area also downgraded to fire advisories just in time for the long weekend. ATV users are also encouraged to use caution to ensure debris in the machines’ exhaust doesn’t set off sparks.
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