New Brunswick has surpassed 10-year average for forest fires this year

Click to play video: 'N.B. ATV group asking members to stay off trails amid fire season'
N.B. ATV group asking members to stay off trails amid fire season
WATCH: While New Brunswick has no formal ban on activities in forests like Nova Scotia, an organization representing ATV users is asking members to stay off the trails. Government officials say it’s not necessary, but as Suzanne Lapointe reports, one forestry expert disagrees – Jun 1, 2023

UNB forestry professor Anthony Taylor said New Brunswick has already had a higher amount of forest fires and area burnt this year than it’s 10-year average.

The dry, hot and windy weather in New Brunswick has created a high risk for forest fires, resulting in large fires in the Bocabec and Chamcook areas.

Quad NB, an organization representing ATV users, sent out a memo asking members to cancel ATV events and avoid going in the woods on Tuesday.

“With the dry conditions that we’re in right now, we thought let’s be proactive, not reactive so we recommended to our clubs to cancel their activities,” General Manager Jacques Poirier said, noting there were many events planned for the first weekend of June, as it generally kicks off the season.

“(We also asked)  our members to try to refrain from going in the woods,” he said.

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Poirier said the trails are almost all on private property, and some land owners, like logging companies, have paused their operations due to forest fire risks, and asked ATV riders not to use the trails.

“Our trails are a privilege; it’s not a right that we have. So the permission is provided by the land owners and if they dictate that they wish for us to close our trails right now, that’s what we’ll be doing,” he said.

He said the organization’s members have mostly been receptive and compliant with the request.

Click to play video: 'N.B. family hopes to rebuild after home lost in Bocabec fire'
N.B. family hopes to rebuild after home lost in Bocabec fire

While Premier Blaine Higgs has recommended New Brunswickers stay out of the woods, there is no formal ban like the one in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia’s provincial government enacted the ban on Tuesday as the province grapples with multiple widespread forest fires.

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At a press conference on Wednesday, Higgs said, “The conditions in Nova Scotia are much drier, are much different than in New Brunswick. When you look at that and say we aren’t at that level (of banning activities in forests), but we are at a level where no one should have open fires. ”

There is a province-wide burn ban in effect.

At the same press conference on Wednesday, Wildfire Management Officer Roger Collet said the situation in New Brunswick wasn’t comparable to Nova Scotia’s.

“The kind of drought that they’re looking at in Nova Scotia, we’re nowhere near that,” he said.

“With the right wind you could have a pretty good fire, as we’ve seen, but other than that it’s just a normal spring,” he said.

Taylor disagrees with that assessment, saying, “While the situation in Nova Scotia is more dire, New Brunswick is not far behind.”

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