Alpine Observer

Planned burns begin

16,000 hectares targeted either side of Easter

- BY BRAD WORRALL bworrall@nemedia.com.au

PLANNED burns will start in the Ovens Valley this week as part of an autumn program targeting 16,000 ha of bushland.

That’s about half of what was burnt at the end of the two previous summers.

The first of the burns is expected to be on a 50-hectare lot near Walkers Lane in Bright this week and is also expected to include a program to remove trees that threaten property, power lines and roads.

Because of the lack of recent rain and warm weather the initial fuel reduction burns are expected to be relatively small – fires that can be started and blacked out in an afternoon or day.

Others near Mt Beauty will follow soon after – there are also burns planned for Bright’s Apex Hill and Barwidgee.

Almost 10,000 ha of the target are in two major burns in Whitfield and Rose River.

Forest Fire Management’s District Manager Ovens Jarrod Hayse said they were looking to take advantage of windows of opportunit­ies either side of Easter.

“We’re looking at the top end of the valleys first and then will work down towards Beechworth – we’ve got some big burns but we’re not ready for them just yet,” he said.

“The Walkers Lane/Hargreaves Road area is a 50ha lot but we won’t be doing anything like that.

“There are a range of social media channels to keep updated on the progress of the burns but the usual warnings apply – you may see or smell smoke, smoke may linger for a few days, particular­ly if there is more than one planned burn in the area.”

Mr Hayse said frequent rains had lowered the bushfire threat this summer.

“It’s been a terrific fire season for firefighte­rs -- but with this dry weather at the moment the bushfire risk is probably as high as it has been all summer,” he said.

“That impacts on our planning with these burns that will be very much weather dependent and it may mean that we light up in the evening rather than the middle of the day.

“We are also mindful of working with our stakeholde­rs – among them vignerons and tourism operators – to limit the impact on their industries.

“We can see a window of opportunit­y either side of Easter and that is what we will work towards.”

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 ?? PHOTO: Brad Worrall ?? MAPPING IT OUT: Forest Fire Management’s District Manager Ovens Jarrod Hayse studies the planned burns map for the region ahead of the first fuel reduction burn this week.
PHOTO: Brad Worrall MAPPING IT OUT: Forest Fire Management’s District Manager Ovens Jarrod Hayse studies the planned burns map for the region ahead of the first fuel reduction burn this week.
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