FOBIF has made a submission to the latest round of fire consultations [see our November 3 Post]. Essentially the submission criticises the zonings around Expedition Pass and the Loddon River, questions the size of some of the zones, and raises [again] the neglect of systematic fuel management on private land. FOBIF representatives will meet with DELWP early in December to discuss these concerns.
The substance of the submission is set out below [zone references can be understood by reference to the map at this link]:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the fire management review.
We have three general and four specific comments:
- We continue to be concerned by the apparent inability of DELWP to integrate private land fuel management into its risk program, despite the large ‘priority fuel management areas’ on private land in the West Central Risk landscape maps. The result of this inability is the artificial isolation of public land and an over emphasis on it, despite the fact that in our area the overwhelming majority of fires start on private land. We also have the occasionally bizarre example of small parcels of public land singled out for burning, although they are surrounded by much larger areas of apparently more dangerous private land. CAS 2 is a bizarre example, and CAS 11 an example where DELWP seems to have admitted the impracticality of dealing with public land in isolation.
- We continue to be preoccupied by the implementation detail in DELWP fuel management activities: in particular by rash and destructive track works, and by destruction of old trees. Even Zone 3 exercises are prone to ecologically damaging practices.
- We are opposed to large fire zones. In particular, CAS 1 [north of Castlemaine] seems to us a large area to do in one go. This area has been seriously thrashed by DELWP in the recent past, and we believe it should be broken up to give it some minimal chance of ecological survival.
1.We do not understand the logic of CAS 2 [Expedition Pass and surrounds] : first, its complete isolation from the area it’s supposed to be threatening, and second, the fact that DELWP apparently proposes to burn one of Castlemaine’s premier recreation areas, and an important water body into the bargain. We wonder whether any attempt has been made to check this proposal with the CMA or Parks Victoria, or whether any effort has been made to look at the values of the Expedition Pass Reservoir, its restoration history, its Management Plan, its restocking with Macquarie Perch etc, etc.
2. At previous briefing sessions we have expressed our concerns about the zone 2 put onto the Loddon River valley around Vaughan Springs. We are at a loss to understand how the Department proposes to burn this narrow valley [practically a gorge] without destroying the River Red Gum riparian zone.
3. We have some concerns about CAS 7 [Hunters Track] because of its position in the Loddon catchment, and the steep terrain. We can see the logic of its position in the ‘corridor’, but would like to discuss this further.