The effort to get Fort McMurray back to normal following last spring’s massive wildfire continued Saturday, as volunteers lined up to help plant trees in the region.

Tree Canada president Michael Rosen told the Alberta Morning News that they’re starting by planting trees in the city itself.

“We’re not going to have a chance to replace all of the trees lost, because there were quite a few trees lost,” Rosen said.
“The fire was huge, it was the size of P.E.I. But we at Tree Canada, we made a point to come out last year and take a look and we decided that we’re going to focus on the trees in town. The trees that are closest to the people who live here. We’re starting with the recreational trails that Fort McMurray is known for. People really want to see that canopy of trees.”

Rosen also said that the damage to trees and the community could have been a lot worse if not for some pro-active efforts in Fort McMurray.

“One of the little known stories of Fort McMurray is how much they had actually done prior to the fire within a program called Fire Smart,” Rosen explained. “(Fire Smart) is a national program that prepares communities, and minimizes the incidents of fire actually entering their communities.”

Rosen added they will mostly be planting willow, trembling aspen, white spruce, and lodgepole pine trees in the area.

“This spring we have a great assortment of trees being planted,” Rosen said. “We’re going to be planting mostly deciduous trees. They’re a little bit better with respect to preparing for a wildfire. They don’t burn as readily as conifers do.”

Around 76,000 trees will be planted in the Wood Buffalo area this year.

It’s part of the Operation ReLeaf Fort McMurray project, which contributed over $1 million to the cause.