Forestry urged to help with fencing

Snowy Valleys Mayor James Hayes has called on Forestry Corporation to help farmers in fire-hit areas pay for the cost of destroyed and damaged fencing.

“I would like to think they (Forestry) would be able to assist,” he said.

“I believe they should look at how they can help. It shouldn’t be 100 per cent on the landholder.

“The fire came out of the forest into farmland; not the opposite.”

Wagga Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr has similar views.

“Forestry is not responsible, but given the scale of the fire and the damage, and the issues with weed management, I think the government should be meeting at least half of this expense,” he said.

Gilmore farmers John and Tracey Callaway totally agree with the Mayor and Member for Wagga.

“Why shouldn’t they? (help pay for the fences),” Tracey said.

The Callaway’s 500 hectare-property, on which they run Angus cattle and Merino sheep, is bordered by Forestry Corporation pine and hardwood forest land.

“When it’s a boundary it’s usually 50/50, so why should they be exempt from that?” Tracey said.

The Callaways had 30km of fencing affected by the Dunns Road fire, and while it wasn’t necessarily destroyed, its lifespan was reduced.

John said the Callaways had enjoyed good relations with Forestry in the past and would be negotiating with them.

However, Paul Sturgess, who has a farm on the Snubba Range at Gilmore, and lost 8.6km of fencing to the Dunns Road fire, has been in positive talks with Forestry Corporation, and says they will assist him in rebuilding fences.

“I have been in talks with them; and they said because they are state government they are not obligated to help but because they want to be good corporate citizens, they’ll provide us with some material,” he said.

“It has not been finalised as yet, but I will provide the labour and the concrete and they will provide material.”

Forestry land borders the Sturgess property, with pine on one side and hardwood on another.

For many years, Forestry has kept a fire tanker vehicle on the Sturgess property.

A Forestry Corporation spokesperson said the Dunns Road fire started about 10km away from the state-owned plantations and despite a concerted firefighting effort from the RFS, Forestry Corporation and others, the fire impacted large areas of plantations, native forest and local communities.

“The scale of the fires this year across the whole state means unfortunately Forestry Corporation is unable to make a voluntary contribution to all the neighbours affected,” they said.

“State forests have tens of thousands of kilometres of boundaries with private properties state-wide, including many impacted by the fires.

“In line with other public land managers, in some instances Forestry Corporation makes a voluntary contribution towards fencing materials as a community service.

“The NSW government has some grants in place to assist farmers impacted by fire and Forestry Corporation continues to look at the fencing issue and any avenues of assistance.”