Firefighters are getting ramped up for fire season – and so should you

Firefighters prepare for start of fire season

Firefighters prepare for start of fire season

Fire season starts next month and firefighters are already training and preparing to help protect Albertans and communities from wildfires. Firefighters are positioned throughout the province, even in the winter, to respond to any wildfires. Alberta adopted the March 1 start in 2012 in keeping with recommendations made following the Slave Lake and area wildfires in 2011.

But what does this mean for Albertans?

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Alberta steps up to bat to prevent white-nose syndrome

There are about 1000 species of bats in the world, and most are beneficial. A little brown bat, for example, can consume more than 600 mosquito-sized insects in an hour. While these flying mammals aren’t blind there is no way they can see white-nose syndrome coming.

White-nose syndrome is a disease caused by a fungus that affects only bats using caves to hibernate. The fungus irritates the bats, causing them to  wake during hibernation, and without available food (insects), they starve to death.

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Catching a Memory

Story by Craig Brown – Information Officer at the Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Information Centre

Family Day long weekend has always been one of my favorites. It’s prime time to get out and see what Alberta’s winter landscape has to offer. My family has a tradition of coming together and doing something we wouldn’t normally do. Last year the usual ideas were thrown around. Skiing? Tobogganing? Skating? Then, someone suggested fishing.

Fishing in February seemed like an adventure but created even more questions. What did we need to know? What regulations would need to be followed? Would we need a licence?

The first thing I discovered was that since Family Day long weekend coincides with Alberta’s Family Fishing Weekend – no licence is required!

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Alberta Parks partners up for horse health

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Horses stay at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park all year round.

Twice a year, University of Calgary veterinarians in training take a short drive from their northwest Calgary campus to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park just outside Cochrane. There, in a historic stable and corral that overlook more than 3,000 acres of rolling grassland along the Bow River, they run the Park’s four horses through a complete checkup.

The partnership began in 2013, a week-long hands-on training rotation in equine medicine for second-year Faculty of Veterinary Science students, and a fourth-year equine dental session. It supplements regular vet appointments for all four horses on-site, and helps develop a full range of skills for students interested in careers caring for horses. Continue reading

Live reports show snow grooming in real time

Story by Duane Fizor – Information Content Coordinator for Alberta Parks in Kananaskis Country

Remember when the Alberta Parks Cross-Country Ski Trail reports were faxed out once per week? This was they way much of the information was sent – as few as 10 years ago. It’s hard to believe that now, thanks to Alberta Parks employees, “Live Grooming Reports” can send updates sent to your email as the snow is being groomed.

In 2012 an early version of the new system was hardwired into the Pisten Bully snow cats at the Canmore Nordic Centre, but in 2013, through the Alberta Parks Innovation Fund, money was secured to develop an app for equipment operators which, when downloaded to an iPhone, would track the grooming equipment using the internal GPS antennae. So instead of receiving grooming information days after it occurred, avid cross-country skiers can now view the new grooming information in real time!

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Winter is the word

Cougars in the Cypress Hills. A Passion for Falcons, a Pig Barn and a $10.00 Fine. Burgess Shale Tales and Trilobite. No, it’s not this season’s newest reality shows, it’s a Winter Speaker Series that is sure to have something for everyone!

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It’s our most ambitious Winter Speaker Series to date. Ten fun-filled weeks learning about falcons, dinosaurs, cougars and much, much more – it all starts on January 20.

Alberta Parks, in conjunction with its partners, has created a stellar lineup of guest lecturers for this annual award-winning program that will inspire, inform and engage whether you’re 10 or 110. Continue reading

Winter golf can be par for the course

Winter is really settling in now and summer seems like a fond and distant memory. Are you already yearning for the golf course and the challenge of the game? Don’t despair – there is a year-round alternative available.

Invented by a group of Saskatchewan school boys in 1926, disc golf brings the traditional game of golf to a higher level – mostly because the “hole” is an above ground target. Similar to golf, a disc is used in lieu of clubs and thrown at the target hole. It is a sport of precision and accuracy, the fewest throws from tee to hole wins. Continue reading

Wolf population management protecting Little Smoky caribou

Our ecosystem is built with many moving pieces and there is never just one factor affecting a species or putting a population at risk, and this is true of the Little Smoky caribou range.

Maintaining caribou population and habitat is a priority. There are several things being done to address this including restoring and managing lands and managing the populations of predator species in the area, this includes wolves.

Let’s talk numbers

When it comes to wolves (one of Alberta’s better known predators) the population has cycled between scarcity and abundance.  The current estimated wolf population in Alberta is 7,000 wolves, an increase from 4,000 wolves in the early 1990s.

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How do wolves pose a threat to caribou? Continue reading

Legislature Christmas Tree shares its boughs

Finding the perfect Christmas tree takes time and care. Each branch must be in its place; the base straight; and the top needs a branch perfect for displaying a star. It’s hard enough finding the right tree for your living room – but imagine having to choose a tree that’s 50-60 feet tall to display in front of the Legislature grounds!

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That’s what Gary Smith and the team at the Edson Wildfire Management Area’s warehouse did this year and have done every year for the last decade. Continue reading

Fueling actions on climate change in Alberta

WTDeerSnowGordonCourtClimate change is a global issue, with people all over the world researching ways to limit human impacts on our climate. In Alberta, we’ve been working on this for a while, like in 2007 when we introduced the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER). We were the first place in North America to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial emitters and require them to report and reduce their emissions.

Now with a new provincial climate change framework coming soon, this regulation is being extended to the end of June 2015. This extension ensures a smooth transition from the current strategy to the new framework expected to be in place in the new year.

Right now, the Alberta government is exploring options to address climate change. This includes looking at the innovative approaches and partnership opportunities presented at the recent United Nations conference in Peru.

So what does the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation actually do? Continue reading