Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Fires devastating the Gulf Region

Back burning along Carpenterier Highway (Peter Clifton)
Fires devastated a couple of stations in the Gulf in September, and now properties further west a copping a beating.

I spoke to the manager of McArthur River Station David Daniell a couple of days ago who estimated that two large fires, which occurred about a week apart in September, burnt 90-95% of the 7,225km2 property.

The Station has had to contract help to move cattle closer to feed and has opened gates to let others move into unmanaged bushland. Calves are being weaned at lower weights than normal and increased numbers of cattle have been shipped out, which required bringing in six extra trailer loads of hay to feed extra stock in holding yards.

David said things are getting desperate and he needs rain within the next month to provide feed for his remaining herd. With fires on many gulf stations, David said there’s not much grass anywhere in the region.
David said he expects wildfires to occur so he burns around Easter each year to create fire breaks to break up the fuel load and reduce the risk of large late dry season fires. He said the country needs fire to remove rank grass and control woody regrowth, but he tries to control when and where it happens. However, this year there has been an unusually high number of fires lit along the highway. David said there needs to be more extension in the region to promote awareness of the negative repercussions of wildfire.

See the recent fire history by clicking here. You can go to the Gulf by clicking the "NT Central" tab on the left of page and then the Gulf tab.

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