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Wildfire risks addressed with big machine

DATE 21/06/2011

A program to reduce the risks of wildfire on King Island’s State forest areas has wound up, but the contractor has stayed on the island to complete some follow-up work.

The $30,000 project was organised by Forestry Tasmania and funded through the State Government’s Contractor Assistance Package to help forestry contractors through the industry’s downturn.

There is more than 1200 hectares of State forest on King island with about half in plantation and the remainder informal reserves.

Beechworth Spraying was hired to do the work and operator Darren Ross used a specialised heavy duty tractor to complete the roadside slashing and firebreak clearing and mulching.

Forestry Tasmania’s co-ordinator for the job, Scott White, said the objective was to make it safer to fight potential fires and improve access to water storages.

“An additional benefit is that there’ll be better access to State forest for recreational users.

“Darren’s done a great job that has been noticed by others and he’s picked up some more work with the King Island council,” Mr White said.

Much of the additional work has been for the King Island Fire Management Area Committee, funded through a Federal bushfire mitigation program.

The committee’s project manager, Deb Delaney, said the work was being undertaken to prevent a repeat of the 2007 fires in the Lavinia Reserve in the Island’s north.

“It’s been great to take the opportunity having the machine on the island presented, because transporting costs would have been prohibitive.

“We’ve ended up with a much better result, because the mulcher has meant there’s very little spoil that become a fire hazard in itself,” Ms Delaney said.

More than 12,000 hectares of scrub was burned in the north of the island four years ago and the mitigation work has concentrated in the southern area.