Backcountry users need to prevent wildfires

Tips for keeping the backcountry safe from fires

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A forest fire silhouetted against the night sky.

We all need to work together to keep safe the forests that we love to play in. — Sam Camp/iStock/Thinkstock photo

With recent wildfires wreaking havoc in areas throughout Western Canada, it is important that everyone works together to prevent wildfires. Consequences are huge and devastating, so if you are on an ORV in the backcountry, here are some tips to consider before venturing out on those hot summer days.

  • Exhaust: It is important that your exhaust be in perfect working order. Bikes that have spark arrestors have them for a reason. Do not remove your spark arrestor.
  • Stick to the trail:  When we venture off-trail not only are we setting a poor example stewardship-wise, we also run the risk of getting tall grasses and other plants and debris caught up around the exhaust and other mechanical components. This situation could ignite the debris and create a wildfire. 
  • Check your machine: Check your machine regularly for signs of debris buildup around exhausts or for fuel leaks.
  • Check and abide by all fire restrictions: Should there be no current fire bans and you intend on having a fire, please use caution, common sense and a designated firepit to prevent the fire from getting away on you.
  • Have the equipment: Pack with you essentials such as a small shovel and something to transport water in such as a collapsible bucket if you intend on having a campfire on your adventure. When extinguishing a fire, use your hands and make sure the entire firepit has been stirred and doused with water and is cool to the human touch. If you have a UTV with enough room, a small fire extinguisher is a great addition to your safety resources.
  • Avoid packing glass containers and bottles into the backcountry. Glass has a magnification effect which can and will ignite wildfires. No one ever plans for a glass bottle to break but accidents happen. Plastic or metal containers are a much safer choice for the backcountry.
  • Smokers, use your head. It should go without saying, but please butt out in the back country if you can’t smoke responsibly. Do not simply toss ignited cigars and cigarettes away. Extinguish your smoke and pack it out of the backcountry. No one needs a reminder of your mess even if it is extinguished.
  • Extra caution in extreme weather: During extreme weather avoid activities in the backcountry that could throw sparks, such as cutting firewood. A chain hitting a hidden rock could be all it takes to start a wildfire. Opt for cooler times of the day or cooler days that have seen moisture to avoid igniting a wildfire.
  • Prevention is key: We have already seen how quickly all backcountry recreation can become closed to public access. Using common sense and a preventative mindset will help preserve and protect our beautiful backcountry.

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