Department plans North Beach burn

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is working with the Corangamite Shire to carry out what will be the first planned burn-off to be conducted in the Lake Bullen Merri crater.

Smoke is set to rise from the Lake Bullen Merri crater next month, but residents are assured there will be no need for panic.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Otway district manager David Porter said a planned burn was scheduled to take place in the North Beach bush sometime in April.

It will be the first ever planned burn for the reserve and follows on from last year’s devastating St Patrick’s Day fires which destroyed a large section of bushland in the northern rim of the volcanic crater.

“The planned burn-off is a part of the Corangamite Shire Council’s Emergency Management Planning Committee which recognises the importance of fuel management around the township,” Mr Roberts said.

“The aim is to take advantage of the fuel reduced area left behind after the fire last year.

“We’re looking to carry out a single burn in the remaining area, which is about 12 hectares.”

The burn would be less severe in heat intensity than the St Patrick’s Day fire.

“We’re not looking at temperatures that would scorch the trees,” Mr Roberts said.

“The burn-off would be less intense and burn lower fire fuels such as grasses, leaf litter and small branches about the size of human fingers.

“That’s the fuel size and type that spreads fires in an uncontrolled incident.”

The burn-off is planned to take place between the dirt road that circumnavigates the lake around North Beach and the lake’s edge.

The embankment leading up to Lake Bullen Merri Road would not be included.

Mr Roberts said the idea of conducting a burn-off at the reserve had been on the table for several years.

“The fact there is already a large burnt area there from last year has prompted us to take the next step,” he said.

“It’s something we will be chipping away at.

“After this burn is carried out, we will probably reassess the area again in a couple of years.

“We are keen to maintain a fuel reduced area, which may also entail mulching and slashing work as well.”

Mr Roberts said DELWP was also working in partnership with the Corangamite Shire Council to devise an appropriate fire break around the embankment area with a view to protecting the landholders to the east.

Community engagement officers are expected to liaise with council, landholders and the broader community in the lead-up to the burn-off.

DELWP officers have also removed a number of dead trees which were still standing prior to the burn-off.

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