DSE Burn plan sparks concern

STRATHDALE residents are concerned a proposed 306-hectare burn-off in a reserve will destroy native wildlife habitat and risk residents’ property.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment has placed notices around the national reserve between McIvor Highway and Strathfieldsaye Road to alert residents of its three-year fire operations plan.

The DSE is accepting feedback until August 31, with a fire plan for the Murray Goldfields region to be finalised by September.

Strathdale home owners Graeme and Lucy Reed sent a letter to the DSE outlining their concerns with the proposed burn, and they urged others to do so before the August deadline.

“We’re concerned there will be significant smoke pollution, a risk to private property and a danger to native wildlife,” they said.

“Three-hundred-and-six hectares is a huge area considering that this is a low-risk area as fires never come from the east and there has already been a large area burned on the eastern side of Wildflower Drive.

“There are a few small paper signs put up around the reserve, which is not sufficient consultation, especially as very few go into the park in winter.”

DSE’s Murray Goldfields district manager Steve Nicholson said his department had a structured public consultation plan and the signs were effective ways to inform the public of proposed burns.

“We welcome comments,” he said.

“We get a range of responses and we find people do see the signs and we get a lot of input, which is really great. In the development of the plan we consult stake-

holders, experts and locals and they give us information about natural values we should be considering.”

Mr Nicholson said all comments, including Mr and Mrs Reed’s, would be replied to in writing by the end of August.

Although he said the size of the fire and the proximity to residential homes were not unusual, he admitted that residents would have to “put up” with smoke.

“People who live in close proximity to the burn will have to put up with the smoke, but a lot of people will be pleased that we’ve reduced fuels and risks in the area, especially as the hot days hit in summer,” he said.

“I think burns like this are really important and it demonstrates the good work we are doing in protecting people’s local property.”