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Re-Greening Projects

The May, 2016 wildfire had a significant and lasting impact on the forests and greenspaces of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). Wildfires are a natural and essential part of how the boreal forest sustains and regenerates itself.

Some regrowth, reforestation and re-greening will happen naturally over time, while there are other areas in which the RMWB will be working with forestry experts to help the process along.

The Municipality recognizes that forests and greenspaces are incredibly valuable to its residents and to the wildlife and environment in the region.

Efforts will be made to rehabilitate some areas were damaged during the May, 2016 wildfire, including removing many of the trees that were damaged in the wildfire, repairing trails to their pre-fire condition and planting grass seed in the first 30 metres of the firebreak areas.

The Municipality understands the importance of greenspaces and forested areas for recreation, mental wellness and community gathering, and will work to help restore many of these spaces.

Firebreak Rehabilitation and Trail Restoration

Work is now under way to rehabilitate firebreak areas created to support firefighting efforts during the 2016 Horse River Wildfire and to restore all trails that were damaged or destroyed at the time.

Firebreak rehabilitation work will include grading and adding topsoil and grass seed in the first 30 metres beyond the end of residential property lines. Approximately 30 per cent of firebreak areas beyond the first 30 metres will receive the same treatment and remaining firebreak areas will regenerate naturally.Firebreak graphic

Rehabilitation work will also include the restoration of trails damaged or destroyed during the wildfire. All trails will be restored to their previous condition, restoring paved trails as paved trails and gravel trails as gravel trails, etc. In some cases, trails may be moved further from the property line and closer to the tree line.

This project will implement FireSmart guidelines, which identify tree species and spacing. Grass in the firebreak areas will be maintained and added to the Municipality's mowing and maintenance program.


Trees will be planted in select areas throughout the region that were damaged in the May, 2016 wildfire. These areas have been identified by forestry experts. There are also non-profit organizations and private partners working with the Municipality on plans for reforestation in the region.

Trees will be planted in areas selected by forestry experts who will select the right species of tree for the area, based on FireSmart principles which includes planting more leafy green trees and keeping trees spaced at least three metres apart. To learn more about FireSmart visit rmwb.ca/firesmart.

Reforestation efforts are beginning this spring and will continue into 2019.

Primarily, Trembling Aspen, Balsam Poplar, Tamarack and Siberian Larch will be planted along with a smaller percentage of White Spruce and Lodgepole Pine. All tree species are native to the region and forestry experts are working to ensure the right trees are planted in the right places.

Areas where planting is complete will be protected for reclamation. Residents are reminded they must not disturb the areas in order to allow seedlings to take root and grow. Residents should refrain from walking, cycling, using off-highway vehicles or allowing pets to roam in the reclamation areas.

Between May 24, 2017 and June 15, 2017, thousands of seedlings will be planted in Abasand, Saprae Creek, Thickwood and Wood Buffalo in areas where hazardous tree removal work was completed.

In some areas, all rebuild activity must be complete before seedlings or trees can be planted.

The first planting is scheduled for Saprae Creek on May 24, 2017 and is expected to take one week.

Residents looking to take part in reforestation efforts should register online. 

Hazardous tree removal

Hazardous tree removal includes the selective removal of trees damaged in the wildfire that pose a community safety risk.

Learn more about ongoing hazardous tree removal projects at rmwb.ca/trees.

Overall Safety

Trees that were burned in the wildfire may pose a safety hazard near trails, roadways, park infrastructure and in burned neighbourhoods within the Urban Service Area of Fort McMurray.

Residents are reminded to obey all posted signage indicating a trail is closed. The trail may look safe to use but there are dangers because the integrity of many trees was destroyed by the wildfire.

Many trees in these areas have severe health and structural support issues that place them at risk of falling down. High winds, heavy rain, and other severe weather may increase this risk.

Residents are reminded to stay out of and away from wooded areas damaged in the wildfire for their own safety.

Winter Maintenance Subzones 1 & 2 are active Jan. 20 - 24.