A ban on back country camping, hiking, ATVing and other travel or recreational activity in all provincial parks and lands will be implemented at noon Tuesday, in hopes of preventing more wildfires from sparking in the province.
Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines made the announcement Monday, while giving an update on the three wildfires currently burning in the province.
“The idea would be if we have less people in the forest in any particular activity that would reduce the likelihood of any type of ignition,” Hines said.
“The thing we really have to think about here too, we’re sending a message to people to increase their awareness, that we’re really dry here – we’re looking to send that message to people to be extraordinarily cautious so that we don’t end up with other fires which would knock down our ability to fight this one.”
People can still access beaches and provincial parks, but trail systems will be restricted by signs advising visitors to stay out of the forest.
Popular trails, such as Cape Split, will be closed as part of the travel restriction, which is expected to be in place for a minimum of two weeks.
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Any commercial activity on Crown lands is also restricted — any organizations wanting to take part in commercial activity will need a permit.
The same goes for those who need to cross provincial or private lands to reach their cottages, cabins or camps. Those who have cabins, camps or cottages on their own land will be allowed to access them.
Minister Hines said this is the first time that a ban of this sort has been implemented in the province in 15 years — the first being implemented almost exactly 15 years ago to the day.
‘Stubborn’ fires taking toll on resources
The fire burning at Seven Mile Lake has grown to now encompass about 140 hectares of forest. The fires in Maitland Bridge and Greenfield are totally contained and cover about 21 hectares.
The minister said that resources are spread thin as the crews fight these “stubborn” fires.
If another fire should spark within the province, Hines said the province doesn’t have the resources to fight it and would have to draw on resources from other provinces.
Seven water bombers as well as dozens of fire fighters are working to tame the flames.
Walter Fanning, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources, said the size of the fires isn’t out of the ordinary, however the extremely dry conditions is making the blazes hard to fight.
“Under normal circumstances in 24 hours we would have this under control,” Fanning said.
There is an existing ban on provincial and private campgrounds in Nova Scotia.
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Kejimkujik National Park, while not under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources, closed all back country camping sites and trails in the park until further notice.
Front country camping in the park is still open, and Jeremy’s Bay and Jim Charles Group campgrounds will stay open.
The park will call all back country campers back to the front country. The park says if they can’t contact all of the campers, staff will go into the back country to find them and bring them out.
The city of Halifax tweeted they will not be implementing the same travel restrictions for city parks, but will support the restrictions in place in provincial lands.