THE Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has fined three men for illegal firewood collection in the past 14 days.
A St Arnaud man, 24, was fined $590 after breaching firewood collection laws in Carapooee West State Forest, south of St Arnaud, on March 31.
“An anonymous tip led DELWP Officers to this particular area in the forest where the man was found cutting firewood outside a designated firewood collection area,'' DELWP district manager Paul Bates said.
“On April 8, during a targeted patrol, two Ballarat men, aged 34 and 29, were also found cutting firewood outside the collection area in the Mt Hut area of the Pyrenees State Forest, approximately 10 kilometres south of Avoca,” Mr Bates said.
“All three men each received a $590 on-the-spot fine and the wood was seized and impounded.
"The demand for firewood from public land is managed through careful selection of firewood collection areas in different parts of Victoria.”
Mr Bates said people collecting firewood on public land must be aware of where, when and what firewood can be legally taken.
“DELWP and Parks Victoria staff patrol forests and take a zero tolerance approach to those who are breaking firewood collection laws,'' he said.
“People who cut down trees, collect firewood outside designated firewood collection areas or a firewood collection season, take more than the maximum allowable amounts or sell firewood they have collected can face on the spot fines of $590, or a maximum penalty in court of one year imprisonment or a $7380 fine, or both.
“The autumn domestic firewood collection season on public land is currently open and runs until June 30, 2015.''
Mr Bates said more information, maps showing approved collections areas and a fact sheet on domestic firewood collection could be found at visit www.delwp.vic.gov.au/firewood
He said anyone seeing suspicious behaviour in public land areas could call 136 186 or visit DELWP, Parks Victoria or a police station and quote Operation Chainsaw.