3 March 2023

Eurobodalla council flags April deadline for bushfire waste clearing

| Travis Radford
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One of the bushfire waste clearing sites - Mogo Cemetery, with graves in the foreground and trees in the background

Mogo Cemetery is one of the council reserves where dead trees, branches and burnt stumps are being removed as part of ongoing bushfire waste clearing. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Eurobodalla Shire Council is confident in getting “very close” to clearing 100 per cent of council reserves of fire-damaged trees by the end of April.

Targeted reserves around Nelligen, Batemans Bay and Mogo, including Grandfathers Gully and Pretty Point, may be temporarily closed for public safety in coming months.

Eurobodalla council’s disaster recovery tree and green waste officer Brett Izzard said the work, which began in July last year, was about half complete.

“We’re working six days a week now until the end of April to get the rest complete,” he said.

“So, I think we will go very, very close to getting 100 per cent [of council reserves cleared of fire-affected trees]. That’s the goal.”

Mr Izzard said property owners would also benefit from the clearing, which will target some access tracks and fence lines.

“[Resident] concerns usually revolve around burnt out trees at the base that have the potential to fall on property,” he said.

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Coastwatchers forest working group community liaison Joslyn van der Moolen called for greater transparency around the trees being removed.

She suggested maps, signs or physical tree markings, to allow residents to identify any environmental values, such as hollows, which may merit trees being saved.

Mogo Nursey owners Gayle Smith and Phil Mayberry standing at the public facade of their nursery.

Mogo Nursey owners Gayle Smith and Phil Mayberry have owned the nursery for 41 years. Photo: Gayle Smith.

Mogo Nursery co-owner of 41 years, Gayle Smith, said she too was concerned about the prospect of animal habitats being lost and biodiversity decreased.

“[It] may be a 500-year-old tree or even older and there’s not much left around here,” she said.

While Ms Smith wasn’t familiar with the work being done by council, she singled out commercial logging activities near Mogo.

“The world got decimated [by the Black Summer bushfires], and then the [commercial] loggers came in and took what was left,” she said.

“They basically raped the bones of the bush.”

Eurobodalla council received almost $3 million from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to undertake the program, along with 14 other councils in the state.

The project guidelines state that only trees assessed by a qualified arborist or other suitably qualified person to pose a “significant risk” to public safety may be removed.

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Mr Izzard said the funding was “very rare” and that he was working with council’s natural resources team to ensure the clearing was “environmentally appropriate”.

“I liaise with the natural resources team, and then they filter back through all their Landcare groups on what’s going on,” he said.

“Where appropriate, we’ll be using the rootballs, stumps and logs removed as fill, support or habitat.”

Mr Izzard said cleared green waste would be reused at the same site where possible.

“What we’re trying to stop is the spread of weeds, pests and diseases.”

He said the EPA funding had also enabled council to reuse green waste previously cleared from the road network.

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