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National Parks NSW and State Forests ask for patience as they begin re-opening parks and tracks after bushfires

ByIsaac BoberJanuary 24, 2020
3 MINUTE READ
National Parks NSW and State Forests ask for patience as they begin re-opening parks and tracks after bushfires

Both National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Forestry Corporation are working towards a progressive re-opening of the most popular parks in NSW with safety the primary concern.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service and Forestry Corporation are working towards a progressive re-opening of the most popular parks in NSW as fire conditions ease but warn the make-safe work will take some time to complete. Four-wheel drivers and campers are being urged to be patient with safety the main priority before parks and tracks are re-opened.

Australia has seen the worst start to its bushfire season in living memory and this has seen large sections of the country burn to an extent not previously experienced and both national parks and state forests to be closed across the country. But with fire conditions beginning to ease in some places (and flare up in others) there’s been a rolling re-opening of parks and tracks.

Mr 4X4 has been told that safety and the need for professional assistance in both tree clearing and infrastructure rebuilding means that even if the fire threat has passed, parks and tracks will remain closed until safety works are completed.

Spokespeople from both the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has told Mr 4X4 that four-wheel drivers should monitor their state-based national parks alerts pages and also the Forestry Corporation alerts page as the “best and quickest source of truth, acknowledging that fires are still active and conditions can change”.

“Staff are inspecting and assessing forests as fire threats subside. Some forests in the central west and the north coast have been re-opened over the past week and we hope to open more over the coming weeks,” Joanna Bodley, public affairs spokesperson at the Forestry Corporation told Mr 4X4.

“A progressive re-opening of national parks across NSW is occurring as fire conditions ease. Our goal is to get trails re-opened as soon as possible, with work prioritised to fix trails that are used by the most visitors,” a spokesperson for the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment told Mr 4X4.

“NPWS will clear trees and debris and then assess the impacts once the firegrounds are safe for people to enter. In addition to fallen trees, many timber bridges are damaged, signs burnt and supporting infrastructure (including retaining walls) damaged in many sites.

“Given the scale of the impact and the nature of the damage, some parks and reserves, and tracks within, will remain closed until further notice. All trails will be opened as quickly as possible, with safety the priority.”

Some on social media have commented asking why four-wheel drive clubs haven’t been asked to help out with clearing tracks. In NSW, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, “has an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with the NSW 4WD Clubs Association, and requests members to assist with tree clearing on fire trails in some circumstances. The scale of the impact this season, alongside the risks of tree fall after fires, means professional staff and contractors will need to be the focus of this current work”.

For those thinking they can ignore locked gates, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment told Mr 4X4, “Entering a closed area is an offence under the NPW Act. The risks of doing so were highlighted recently when a motorcycle rider illegally entered a closed area and fell into an ash pit and was seriously burnt. If anyone sees illegal activity, they should contact the nearest NSW National Parks office or NSW Police Force, as soon as possible, to report an incident”.

To check what parks/tracks are open and closed:

NSW: https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/alerts/alerts-list

VIC: https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/media-releases/park-and-forest-closures

QLD: https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/park-alerts/

SA: https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/know-before-you-go/closures-and-alerts

WA: https://alerts.dbca.wa.gov.au/

TAS: https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-parks/know-before-you-go/alerts

NT: https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/plan-your-visit/check-park-open-darwin