Working together on Fire Recovery in the Goulburn Broken Catchment

A large band of lightning caused 3 significant fires in Creighton’s Creek (5,000 hectares), Stewarton (3,000 hectares) and Boweya (5,750 hectares) in the Goulburn Broken Catchment on December 15th 2014.

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Productive Plains Local Co-ordinator, Tony Kubeil said fire recovery works commenced in these areas immediately following the fires.

“The Goulburn Broken CMA worked closely with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the Country Fire Authority, Goulburn-Murray Water, the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, the Department of Economic Development, Local Governments, Landcare groups and Networks and the community, and we were able to assist fire affected landholders straight away,” Mr Kubeil said.

“Because of pre-existing relationships we were able to act quickly – our roles were fully understood before we started and this was appreciated by the community.

“We are now working with DELWP to re-direct funding from other projects and plan a longer-term Fire Recovery Program to protect waterways, control pest plants and animals, and protect and conserve biodiversity assets in these areas.”

The three fires occurred within the Gecko CLaN Landcare Network area, and the Gecko CLaN has been in contact with more than 300 fire affected landowners since the December fires. Mr Kubeil said the Goulburn Broken CMA were extremely grateful for the assistance the Gecko CLaN have provided to communities in these areas.

“They were able to hit the ground running and put a fire recovery plan in action before the fires were even out,” Mr Kubeil said.

Fire affected landholders would also benefit from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning providing immediate and much needed funding for riparian fencing on high priority waterways, Goulburn Broken CMA River Health Officer Geoff Brennan said.

“We are in the process of visiting landholders in the fire affected area to ensure waterways that had been fenced through Goulburn Broken CMA programs in the past are protected from over grazing, erosion and other threats so they can recover from these fire events,” Mr Brennan said.

“We are very pleased to have some funding we can use to assist landholders replace or repair fencing on high priority waterways in the fire affected areas.” He said.

Concerns about the impact of falling dissolved oxygen levels in key waterways due to rainfall washing ash, nutrients, organic matter and sediment into them led the Goulburn Broken CMA to arrange for environmental water to be sent down the upper Broken Creek.

“Low dissolved oxygen levels can have an impact on native fish and other aquatic fauna,” said Strategic River Health and Environmental Water Reserve Coordinator, Simon Casanelia. 

“The Goulburn Broken CMA, in partnership with Goulburn Murray Water and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, were able to respond quickly and deliver environmental water to the upper Broken Creek downstream of the Stewarton fires to ensure this dissolved oxygen levels were maintained or improved.” He said.

Stumps and logs from trees that had fallen or had been removed for safety reasons will also be used in re-snagging programs in the Hughes Creek near Avenel and the Broken Creek near Numurkah, providing habitat for native fish in these waterways.

For more information on fire recovery in the Goulburn Broken Catchment please contact Charlie Sexton on 03 5764 7507, 0488 196 216 or email charlies@gbcma.vic.gov.au

Kerri Robson from the Gecko CLaN and Boweya farmer Doug James in front of some of the fire damaged fencing removed as part of the fire recovery process in the Goulburn Broken Catchment.