No one wants to see a return to the dark summer of destruction that was experienced during the 2019/2020 bushfire season.
To help mitigate the devastation, helicopter aerial inspections of fire trails on Crown land have been conducted along the North Coast in preparation for the 2021/2022 season.
The aerial inspections, supported by on-the-ground trail maintenance, have been conducted by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands in conjunction with the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and Soil Conservation Service.
This year more than 1,500 km of fire trails on Crown land and surrounding land have been inspected by helicopter statewide, to ensure they are in good condition for firefighters.
North Coast inspections included fire trails in the Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Kyogle, Mid Coast, Nambucca Valley, Port Macquarie Hastings, Port Stephens, Richmond Vale, and Tweed local government areas.
Aerial inspections more efficient than four-wheel-drive
Aerial inspections are more efficient than four-wheel-drive inspections in remote and less accessible areas or where fire trails cross multiple land boundaries, cutting inspection times from months to weeks.
Fire trails are inspected and then any identified maintenance is undertaken to ensure firefighting crews and their vehicles can quickly access blazes if they break out, to protect property and residents.
The Rural Fire Service, Fire & Rescue NSW, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Forestry Corporation, all rely on properly maintained fire trails.
The aerial inspections identify fallen trees requiring removal; erosion or vegetation growth that has impacted trails, and; creek crossings requiring repair. The helicopter is also fitted with a camera to help record where follow-up work is needed.
The ground crews
On the ground crews then remove vegetation; conduct erosion repairs; undertake drainage and soil stability work; construct vehicle passing and turning bays; position trail signage; and install 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.