Hazard reduction burning progressing well in State forests of the Watagans

State Forests of NSW plan to continue hazard reduction burning in the Watagans next week.

Several hazard reduction burns have been successfully carried out in the Watagans this week. With ideal weather conditions forecast to continue, State Forests is keen to make the most of the opportunity to burn.

State Forests Hunter Region fire management officer, Peter Crichton, said that forest neighbours or visitors should not be alarmed to see smoke over the north-west slopes of Olney State Forest, approximately 15 kilometres south-west of Wollombi, next week.

An 800 hectare hazard reduction burn will be carried out in this area. State Forests crews will backburn off Murrays Forest Road and other fire trails. Once these perimeter burns are completed, a helicopter will be used to drop incendiaries into the centre of the burn area.

A hazard reduction burn commenced in Heaton State Forest this week, will be completed next week.

“Hazard reduction burning is an important management activity, used to reduce fuel loads and manage bushfire risk across the landscape,” Mr Crichton said. “It is important we do these burns now, while environmental and weather conditions are suitable for conducting controlled burns of low intensity.

“It is mostly the ‘kindling’ type fuels, such as leaves and sticks on the forest floor, that will be burned,” Mr Crichton explained. “These are the fuels that generate the intense heat in a bushfire. Reducing these fuel levels now means any wildfires that occur in these areas in summer will be less intense.

“In other words, firefighters will have a greater chance of suppressing a wildfire and protecting life and property.”

State Forests’ hazard reduction burning activities are carefully planned to minimise any potential impacts on flora and fauna, particularly threatened species, and other forest values, including soil and water quality.

These burns are authorised under the Rural Fires Act 1997 and are approved by the Cessnock Bush Fire Management Committee.

State Forests has no plans to conduct hazard reduction burning on weekends. However, visitors are urged not to venture into areas where burning has been carried out. Murrays Forest Road will be closed to the public next week, but will reopen for the weekend.

Media contact: Peter Crichton on (02) 4927 2900.