Landcare to organise public meeting

Blackwood and Barry’s Reef Landcare Group (BBRLG) has resolved to invite state member Mary-Anne Thomas to chair an information session in Blackwood at which representatives of the Victorian Environment Assessment Council (VEAC) explain and justify their recent recommended land-use changes.

On August 31, VEAC released recommendations which, if adopted by government, would see the Wombat State Forest reclassified as national park.

Locals have, by-and-large, been blindsided and alarmed by this recommendation and subsequent fears have emerged about access and recreational uses of our surrounding forests.

At its most fundamental level, locals want to know whether the restrictions, which currently apply to the Lerderderg State Park, will be extended to the Wombat State Forest?

In its report (http://veac.vic.gov.au/documents/Central%20West%20report_FINALISED%20interactive%20pdf.pdf), VEAC attempts to define what future uses might be permitted and which banned.  But the report is (at best) inaccessible and (at worst) contradictory to the locally-lived experience.

As Blackwood and Barry’s Reef are the communities most affected by VEAC’s recommendations (the forest is our backyard), BBRLG wants the council to personally explain:

  • Why the investigation was conducted in the first place?
  • What the recommendations mean for us?
  • What they mean for forest management and ongoing fuel reduction protection of the townships?
  • What they mean for recreational uses of the forest, including: hunting, mining, domestic firewood collection, camping, dog walking, four-wheel driving, trail riding, horse riding and mountain-bike riding?
  • How these recommendations are justified?
  • What is the timeline? and
  • What are the next steps?

The group proposes to organise this event at the Blackwood Public Hall as soon as we hear back from Ms Thomas and VEAC about interest and availability.

BBRLG sees itself as a neutral party in this matter.  The group did not make a submission to the investigation.

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