EDMONTON — Alberta is taking steps to try to minimize the risk of wildfires during the COVID-19 crisis.
Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen says the province is hiring an additional 200 firefighters, bringing in a fire ban on provincial land and restricting off-highway vehicles.
The province says nearly 4,050 square kilometres burned in Alberta last year and 71 per cent of fires were caused by humans.
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Dreeshen says the fire ban will apply to provincial parks and protected areas — which account for about 60 per cent of the province — but won't apply to farmland or First Nations land.
He said $20 million is to be allocated to the FireSmart program in which communities take action such as clearing or thinning trees to reduce the risk of wildfires.
Alberta is also doubling fines for violators of fire bans and restrictions on off-highway vehicles.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2020
The Canadian Press