North

No burning permits as dry conditions persist in N.W.T.'s Dehcho region

Persistently dry conditions in the Dehcho region have prompted the N.W.T.'s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) to stop issuing burning permits in the region at least until Monday.

Region experiencing 'hot weather with extremely dry' conditions, dangerous forest fire fuels

Fire crews in the Dehcho region underwent training this week for the 2016 wildfire season. (GNWT)

Persistently dry conditions in the Dehcho region have prompted the N.W.T.'s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) to stop issuing burning permits in the region until at least Monday.

"The Dehcho will be experiencing hot weather with extremely dry fuels in the next few days," the Dehcho regional ENR office wrote on its Facebook page Thursday.

"Campers should take extra precaution and not have any campfires in heavily fueled areas," the post said, referring in particular to thick forest and fine fuels like dead grass. "Campfires should be contained in a pit."

Dehcho parks remain closed

All territorial parks opened for the season on Friday — except for those along the Dempster Highway and three parks in the Dehcho region.

Sambaa Deh Falls Territorial Park and Fort Simpson Territorial Park are scheduled to open May 20, while Blackstone Territorial Park is expected to open June 1.

Parks in the Dehcho region have not opened yet as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources cautions people in the region to only light campfires in contained pits, citing continuing dry conditions in the region. (GNWT)

Permits to burn are needed to light a fire outside of municipal limits for anything other than cooking food or keeping warm.

The Dehcho office said it will reassess whether to issue permits on Monday.

Richard Olsen, the N.W.T.'s manager of fire operations, said last week the Dehcho region had "ground conditions that are relatively dry" as the territory entered the 2016 wildfire season.

"Please be careful with fire, as the forest is already dry and sensitive," the Dehcho office wrote on Facebook.

Plans for more experimental burns north of Fort Providence 

The Dehcho region is also notable for being home to a government-run wildfire research area located 40 kilometres northeast of Fort Providence.

Staff with the N.W.T.'s Forest Management Division observe and record data on fire behaviour in mulched lines and untreated forest in this undated photo. (GNWT)

ENR's Forest Management Division conducts experimental research burns at the site using hand-held drip torches or terra torches to start controlled fires.

The division then documents fire behaviour.

The work is done in part to "evaluate the effectiveness of forest fuel treatments in protecting homes and communities from wildfire," according to a draft plan ENR recently shared with the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

The department is seeking a new five-year land use permit to continue its work at the site.

On Friday, the board said it needed more information from the department before processing the application.

ENR's online map showing the location of wildfires in the territory is not yet operational, though the homepage on the department's N.W.T. Fire website says there are currently no wildfires burning in the territory.

now