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It isn't just 'Variable and Changing' weather we have to challenge

The Beagle Editor,

A MOTION TO BE PUT.

I question the relevance and soundness of Clr Pollock’s motion to be put at the next council meeting and wonder if he has actually done any research on the issue.

The MOTION:

“THAT Council write to (Ministers)................................. seeking an urgent review of the current bushfire fuel reduction protocols and planning practices with the view of achieving a more efficient process for Government and private property owners, more frequent and regular hazard reduction burning in the State Forests and National Parks of NSW and a commitment of resources by the NSW Government to ensure that required hazard reduction burns can be undertaken as and when required.”

“BACKGROUND Current control and protocols have limited regular and effective hazard reduction within and beyond Eurobodalla. The current seven-year cycle does not provide adequate protection. Often hazard reduction burns are regarded as being completed but in reality, have been largely ineffective. As a result, no further action for seven years. The spread and intensity of recent fires are testimony to the need for change. The extent of planning and necessary manpower often limits it to a very few days each year, being available for actual hazard reduction. To preserve our bush and native wildlife, a more regular regime needs to be implemented. ‘Own the fuel, own the fire’”.

Does Clr Pollock realise that:

* Eurobodalla has a Bushfire Risk Management Plan (now out of date, but a new one currently with NSW State Govt) and that Clr Constable is council’s rep on the BRM Committee, along with reps from NP, Forestry and RFS? (After reading in the Beagle that Eurobodalla’s Bush Fire Risk Management Plan is dated 2011 and was supposed to be reviewed in 2016, I did some research.

The Plan states,

”The Eurobodalla BFMC will also review this plan as necessary to account for any changes in context or risk.

This may be triggered by a range of circumstances, including but not limited to:

* changes to the BFMC area,

* organisational responsibilities or legislation;

* changes to the bush fire risk in the area;

* or following a major fire event

I would have thought that the prolonged drought we are in would trigger an urgent review.)

* NP have a regular regime of hazard reduction burns for Parks in our area?

* Last year, NP actually conducted more HR burns than had been allotted to them due to suitable conditions?

* There is a narrow window in which to conduct HR burns (and getting narrower) where they can be controlled. If conditions are not conducive, burns do not achieve required outcomes or have to be postponed - we cannot control the weather?

* In NPs, if an HR burn is ineffective or fails to take place due to conditions, it is done the following year if conditions allow. There is no waiting for another ‘so many years’(contrary to Clr Pollock’s assertion)?

* NP funds and experienced knowledgeable staff have been reduced dramatically. These need to be restored/improved if bushfire management practices are to be improved? 

* HR burns can actually enhance the bush fire risk as it encourages new thicker growth? Areas burnt on our property in the 2002 bushfires resulted in growth of thick stands of green wattle which are highly combustible. * Private property owners who wish to conduct HR burns on their property can do so on their own with appropriate consultations, or they can ask their local RFS brigade or Fire Control in town, and it will be arranged? In short, you can’t “achieve a more efficient process for Government and private property owners,” or “more frequent and regular hazard reduction burning in the State Forests and National Parks,” if conditions do not allow it. And, as stated above, private property owners can do HR burns, after consultation, at any time when conditions are appropriate. And as for, a commitment of resources by the NSW Government to ensure that required hazard reduction burns can be undertaken as and when required,” is just ridiculous. Resources can and are committed to HR burns, but conditions may not allow them to take place at that particular time. “The spread and intensity of recent fires are testimony to the need for change.” Yes it is. The need to admit there is a Climate Emergency. The need to act to counter what we are contributing to. If Clr Pollock wants to live in a wasteland, then his motion would go far in achieving such an outcome. It certainly wouldn’t result in the preservation of our “bush and native wildlife,” let alone human health and survival.

Burning more, and more often does not solve the problem, it exacerbates it!

Patricia Gardiner

Deua River Valley


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