Grass poses fire risk near Eaglehawk Creek: residents

Some Eaglehawk residents are concerned overgrown grass surrounding Eaglehawk Creek poses a heightened fire risk heading into the summer months.

Residents believe workers have been slashing the grass during the winter months, but have paid little attention to the area recently.

One stretch of grass bordering the creek – south of Edgewater Close – appears to have been recently mown, but resident Chris believes it is not enough.

“They’re not doing anything about it – it’s just crazy stuff,” he said, suggesting he saw a five metre eastern brown snake slithering through the grass recently.

“If a fire ripped through we’d be worried.

“I don’t understand why they couldn’t have cut it (grass) a bit further back.”

Referencing the state government’s recent decision to extend the bushfire management overlay in Greater Bendigo – which tightens vegetation management and building requirements for landowners in specific areas – Chris said: “It’s the environment surrounding us that’s going to cause the damage.” 

Another resident, Val Mayo, said authorities had let the area surrounding the creek “go wild” over the past 12 months.

Despite only living in Eaglehawk for 18 months, Ms Mayo said the devastating fires of 2009 were in her thoughts.

“Just to think of the way the fire ripped through everywhere, it makes you wonder why they (authorities) only did half (of the slashing near Eaglehawk Creek),” she said. 

Eaglehawk and Maiden Gully were two areas hardest hit during the Black Saturday bushfires, with 58 family homes and countless sheds and outbuildings destroyed in the Bracewell Street, Eaglehawk, fire on February 7, 2009.

Some grass near the Eaglehawk Creek can be seen pushed up against the back fence of properties on Symbester Crescent, which is managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Forest Fire Management Victoria’s (FFMV) Acting Murray Goldfields District Manager Adrian Park said in the lead up to summer FFMV will slash the grass on public land behind Symbester Crescent in Eaglehawk next to the Eaglehawk Creek as part of its fuel reduction program. 

“FFMV will slash approximately 400 hectares of Crown land around Bendigo in the coming months. This slashing work will reduce fire risk for local residents and improve fire fighter access,” he said.

There wasn’t a specific requirement about how far the grass must be cut from property lines, Mr Park said,  rather FFMV made a case by case assessment about what works will be most effective in reducing fire risk while taking into account the features of the block. 

Depending on land use, creek frontages are managed by different authorities and people including DELWP, Parks Victoria, City of Greater Bendigo, committees of management or private residents.  

FFMV has a slashing program of around 1600 hectares of Crown land in the Murray Goldfields District this year to reduce fire risk to the local community.

Residents concerned about fire hazard on public land in their neighbourhood can contact DELWP on 136 186 and will be directed to their nearest DELWP office or local council.