The last Roundtable meeting for the year was held on 30th November and its focus was the upcoming planned burns.
There are several strategic burns planned to manage fuel loads and reduce bushfire risk for the Halls Gap community. In order to carry out these burns there will be a significant impact on the tourist industry and residents of Halls Gap.
There are a number of fires planned to be carried out over a couple of years and done in a way to give a patchwork effect on the bush and at the same time reduce the overall fuel loads. There was a lot of discussion on the lack of real time information on planned burns and how the lack of warning can impact on tourist operators. There needs to be a better way of getting information out to those in the tourist industry as well as the public. A school camp operator pointed out that it is very difficult to change plans for a hike for fifty students with no notice. More notice is required for tourist operators to be able to change planned activities and there is a need to be given alternative areas to visit. This could be an opportunity to promote alternative areas in the Park.
Another suggestion was that the perceived ugliness of burnt areas could be an opportunity and how can we engage visitors to sites after fires to educate them and change the way people see the results of burns. Interpretive signs could be erected after burns to indicate when an area has been burnt. Planned burns could be an opportunity for Incident Management training and any traffic management points could be used to disseminate information on the burn.
It was felt there is a need to use a range of techniques to communicate information, including social media and face to face opportunities for the public. An update on the planned burn program and progression from discussions of this meeting will be the agenda items for the next meeting which is scheduled for February.