Short season predicted for morel pickers in dry NWT A lack of moisture and high temperatures in the NWT means the hyped morel har- vest could be a ash in the pan if no rain comes. See page 2. Fort Smith woman honoured for 42 years of volunteering Marilyn Napier of Fort Smith was named individual volun- teer of the year by the GNWT at the 2015 Outstanding Vol- unteer Awards. See page 10. HONOURING HERITAGE Youth awarded for showcasing cultural familial histories. See page 9. First Nations Mtis balk at whooping crane tours Aboriginal governments near Wood Buffalo National Park say they were not consulted on ight tours to see the en- dangered whooping cranes. See page 6. Bear breaks into Fort Smith truck for a cup of joe Two hikers from Fort Smith came back to a surprise after a black bear broke into their vehicle for a cup of coffee near the Salt Plains. See page 6. V IS IT W W W .N O R J.C A A national award winning independent newspaper serving northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories since 1977 1.00 May 26 2015 Vol. 39 No. 4 PhotoDaliCarmichael Fire season explodes early as lightning rolls into drought-stricken NWT Territory sees 34 res since beginning of season By MEAGAN WOHLBERG As lightning moved its way east from the Yukon over the mountains and into the Northwest Territories over the weekend re management crews were hoping it would bring some rain with it. That wasnt the case however when dry lightning sparked over 20 res all the way from Norman Wells to the Alberta-NWT border bringing the total number of res in the territory since the beginning of the early re season to 34. As a comparison we would have had three to ve res around this time last year and we have had 34 res at this point in time said manager of re operations for En- vironment and Natural Resources ENR Rick Olsen. So the number of res has noticeably increased. Already the territory has 23 of its 28 Type 1 initial attack crews en- gaged and all aircraft manned in- cluding helicopters and air tankers though no community is presently at risk. Currently the majority of the res are burning in the Dehcho region where four of the 17 res are being actionedbytankersnearTroutLake. Dryness is pervasive across the NWT where summer tempera- tures came two to three weeks earlier than usual across the De- hcho North Slave and South Slave regions with record temperatures We might get some reprieve this week from lightning compared to last week he said. Lightning has caused the major- ity of ongoing res while an active coal seam re ignited nearby veg- etation along the Mackenzie River near Tulita. There have been four person-caused res in the NWT to date in Inuvik Fort Smith and Hay River. Four other res have been conrmed as holdovers from last year all of which are in the Fort Providence-Behchoko area. Drought codes high across southern NWT Olsensaiddroughtconditionsexist in a large part of the southern NWT especiallynearHayRiverextending north toward Fort Providence and a large part of the Yellowknife-North Slave region as well as east towards Jean Marie River Fort Simpson and Wrigley in the Dehcho. See Holdover res on page 3. Another seven res are burning in theSouthSlavemostnotablyaround Fort Providence. There are four ac- tive res in the North Slave region ve in the Sahtu and one human caused re near Inuvik. As of Monday a total of 1063 hectares had burned though Olsen said some fires were increasing exponentially in size. lining the Mackenzie Valley all the way up to Inuvik. Last week cold trough systems began to move their way underhigh- pressure ridge systems in the NWT bringing dry lightning. Though there is still no indica- tion of rain Olsen said colder air coming from the Eastern Arctic this week will likely see fewer re starts. As a comparison we would have had three to ve res around this time last year and we have had 34 res at this point in time. Rick Olsen Environment and Natural Resources Louise Fraser left Karen Price Milly Steed Betty Masson and Karen Mabbitt back have a laugh outside the Northern Lights Special Care Home during the Cancer Survivors Lunch hosted by the Fort Smith Relay for Life committee in their honour. For the full story head to page 15.