Community groups say they have had a constructive meeting after clearing works were undertaken on a Crown road adjacent to the Salty Lagoon Nature Reserve.
On May 7, the concerned parties came together at the lagoon near Bermagui where the Department of Industry (DOI) had carried out maintenance on the road, which is in an asset protection zone (APZ).
“We recognise that APZs have to be created. But [the meeting] was more about the method things were done and the lack of consultation,” Merriman’s Local Aboriginal Land Council CEO Terry Hill said.
He said topics discussed at the meeting included alternative ways to create APZs instead of using machinery.
“It wasn’t a big area and could have been done by hand in a more environmentally sensitive way,” Mr Hill said.
Salty Lagoon Nature Reserve volunteer Gary McCarthy said Mr Hill had constructively argued the case that instead of investing in machinery it was better to invest in people to deal with the issue of bushfire mitigation.
“We are all concerned with the threat of another firestorm event, although there are other more traditional and cultural methods to deal with the build up of forest fuels that surround built-up areas,” Mr McCarthy said.
“Having a trained Indigenous fire crew conducting hazard reduction burns their way would be so beneficial environmentally, socially and culturally, as well as an effective means of fire mitigation.”
A spokesperson for the DOI – Lands and Water said the department routinely carries out essential maintenance of the APZ in the Salty Lagoon area in accordance with the Bega Valley Bush Fire Risk Management Plan.
They wanted to make it clear no maintenance work or clearing was undertaken in the reserve itself.
"The department has recently completed routine maintenance work within the APZ which is made up of a Crown road of around 20metres wide and 140metres long. It is not located within the reserve,” they said.
"The APZ has been in place for many years and the department is responsible for managing fuel loads to protect nearby dwellings during a bush fire.
"The department is currently reviewing APZs in the Bega area in consultation with the local Bushfire Management Committee."