To check on more than 80 fire trails in our region ahead of bushfire season, inspections have taken to the air.
Helicopter inspections began operating from Merimbula Airport on Thursday in preparation for summer.
The aerial inspections, which will be backed up by on-the-ground trail maintenance, are being conducted by Crown Lands, in conjunction with the Rural Fire Service and Soil Conservation Service.
Helicopter crews are inspecting Crown land and other adjoining land this week in the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Albury, Greater Hume, Snowy Valleys, Snowy-Monaro, and Queanbeyan-Palerang local government areas.
More than 80 fire trails across these areas are being inspected over three days.
These inspections are part of more than 1400km of fire trails that are being inspected by helicopter statewide to ensure they are in good condition for summer.
Crown Lands officer Shaun Flood said helicopter inspections were more efficient than vehicles to check fire trails in remote areas and in areas where fire trails cross multiple land boundaries, reducing inspection times from months to weeks.
The Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Forestry Corporation, all rely on properly maintained fire trails.
The aerial inspections identify if trees are down and need removal, if erosion or vegetation growth has impacted trails, and if creek crossings require repair.
Helicopter crews record details of what they see, and the helicopter is also fitted with a camera to help record where follow-up work is needed.
Ground crews maintain fire trails by removing vegetation; repairing erosion; undertaking drainage and soil stability work; constructing vehicle passing and turning bays; installing trail signage; and putting in place gates and bollards to protect fire trails from illegal access and dumping.
Crown Lands also works with other agencies to conduct hazard reduction burns, and clear Asset Protection Zones (APZs) to ensure adequate fire breaks between homes and other buildings in residential areas.
If landowners have concerns about potential bushfire hazards on adjoining land, they should contact the Rural Fire Service.