The Western Australian and Australian Governments are spending $1.1million this year to upgrade priority firebreaks and trails, bridges and other infrastructure as part of joint program to mitigate bushfires.
Environment Minister Judy Edwards said half the funding would be provided by the Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services under the national Bushfire Mitigation Program.
The State Government would fund the balance through the Department of Conservation and Land Management.
The program is one of the outcomes of the Council of Australian Governments’ inquiry following the disastrous fires that hit Canberra in 2003 and the House of Representatives Select Committee report on the fires that burned more than one million hectares in southern NSW and Victoria in 2002-03.
Dr Edwards said the main objectives of the bushfire mitigation program were to build and maintain an effective fire trail network which would provide access for fire fighters and machinery needed to protect communities and conservation areas from uncontrolled fires.
The aim was to increase safety of fire crews involved in fire suppression, speed up access to fires and increase the type of resources that could be made available safely during wildfires.
“The speed with which fire crews can respond to fires once they are detected is a critical factor in minimising the threat posed by bushfires,” the Minister said.
“CALM fire crews and resources are strategically located throughout the forest areas and they are supported by volunteer bush fire brigades run by local government authorities and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority.
“However, it is critical that the infrastructure is in place to enable these crews to respond rapidly.
“The additional funding under the Bushfire Mitigation Program is a welcome contribution by the Commonwealth and is in line with the State Government’s priority to protect communities and environmental values.”
Dr Edwards said the works program had been prepared by CALM in consultation with regional and local bushfire advisory committees. It had been assessed by a panel comprising CALM, the WA Local Government Association, FESA and the Department of Indigenous Affairs.
The Minister said key works had been carried out in the southern forests, the Wheatbelt, Mid-West and Goldfields.
“Many of the works involve constructing strategic fire trails or upgrading infrastructure such as bridges and water supply points,” she said.
“The work not only will improve access for fire crews, it also will assist in lessening the risk of fires that begin on the conservation estate escaping on to neighboring private property.”
Dr Edwards said details of the works proposed were available from CALM district offices.
Minister’s office: 9220 5050