Capes burn activity still up in the air
Capes burn activity still up in the air

Unfavourable weather has stalled the Department of Environment and Conservation’s spring prescribed burn program in the South West.

Environment minister Bill Marmion has allowed the DEC to resume prescribed burns within five kilometres of townships and rural subdivisions following a review by the Office of Bushfire Risk Management.

The program includes 171 burns totalling 152,000 hectares but DEC Blackwood district manager Greg Mair said no burns had taken place in the Capes area so far this spring.

“We’ve had a dry winter and fuels are drying out quickly, which needs to be taken into account by all land managers,” he said.

Mr Mair said apart from prescribed burns at Yelverton and Whicher Scarp, south of Busselton no more were planned for the Capes region.

“It’s impossible to tell how much burning will get done – it depends on the suitability of the fuel,” he said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and look for opportunities.”

Bushfire Front chairman Roger Underwood said the DEC’s fuel reduction program was at least a decade behind.

He said it was good the DEC’s proposed burns were now compliant with international risk management standards, but it’s lack of past burns had led to potentially disastrous fuel accumulation in the South West.

Recent poor weather conditions had also prevented the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River from undertaking any significant prescribed burns and efforts had focussed on fire breaks and mechanical fuel reduction.

Pre-burn works and fire breaks have been installed ahead of two joint FESA and Local Government hazard reduction burns scheduled for Augusta, but they will only be conducted if a window of suitable conditions could be identified.

FESA urged residents to get their families and homes ready for the upcoming bushfire season during Bushfire Action Week, which ends on Sunday.

To encourage the community to get bushfire ready this year the Shire of Augusta Margaret River has engaged two volunteer Bushfire Ready Facilitators.

Georgina Thiele and Gordon Temby are available to meet with people or groups as required.

For more information call Ms Thiele on 0417 998 461 after hours 9758 1281, or Mr Temby on 0419 954 658 after hours 9757 2016.

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