Alberta's Campgrounds' Camping Regs Strict
It’s the unofficial kickoff of summer this weekend in Canada, but it comes with some strict rules: campfire bans, liquor bans and temporary trail closures for off-road vehicles to protect spawning fish.
The May long weekend will see thousands of people head outdoors for some hiking, camping and other recreational activities, the Calgary Herald reported.
“There’s some safety concerns and then there’s some concerns with respecting the land,” said Jacalyn Ambler, a spokeswoman for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. “One of the biggest concerns this season is going to be wildfires.”
This week, the province issued a fire weather advisory, canceling all burning permits in Alberta as a wildfire threatens the central Alberta hamlet of Nordegg.
It’s expected the fire bans will stay in effect across the province this weekend.
On Tuesday, there were bans across 50% of Alberta, from as far north as Fort McMurray to much of central and southern Alberta. There are also bans in 17 Alberta parks — including Bragg Creek Provincial Park, Fish Creek Provincial Park and Glennifer Reservoir Recreation Area.
Campfires are, however, still allowed in the national parks.
Omar McDadi, a Parks Canada spokesman for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay, said the fire risk is low to moderate in the Banff area.
“There’s no fire ban in effect,” he said, noting campfires are allowed with the proper permits. “Fires have to be in designated fire areas only.
“Our fire conditions don’t always reflect, because we’re in the mountains, the fire danger that’s maybe found elsewhere in the province, and that’s currently the case," he said.
McDadi said the main campgrounds — including Tunnel Mountain campground in Banff, Redstreak campground in Kootenay and Kicking Horse campground in Yoho — are open and still have spots available for the long weekend.
“There’s still opportunity there,” he said.
Camping spots are also available in many provincial parks, despite the fire bans.
Susan Johnson, a spokeswoman for Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, said while some campgrounds are fully booked, there are more than 170 provincial campgrounds that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
“K-Country is quite booked up, but it’s still first-come first-served for a number of campgrounds there as well,” she said, noting the best option is to keep an eye on the reservation website or call the campsite operator to check availability before heading out.
Some of the provincial and all of the national park campgrounds have liquor bans in effect for the long weekend.
In addition, the province has closed some recreational trails due either to wet conditions or fish spawning in the nearby rivers.
“The Bighorn Dam Trail is closed and the Fall Creek area is closed to protect fish habitat down there,” said Ambler. “Both the trail and that area are really muddy.
“The Fall Creek area is an important spawning and hatching site for bull trout and, so, if the riverbed is disturbed, the eggs can be crushed. It’s a temporary closure.”
Albertans are also asked to take precautions to prevent wildfires across the province.
“Last year, 80% of our wildfires across the province were caused by human activity,” she said. “We’d like to get that down this year. We want people to be aware that not just campfires and burn barrels, but also things like cigarettes and off-highway vehicles, they can all cause wildfires.”