FOGG’s Annual General Meeting – 17 Oct 2015

Thirteen of us met at Mirranatwa carpark where we had a hunt for wildflowers. Unfortunately the hot dry conditions of September and early October meant most things had finished flowering. We did manage to find a Musky Caladenia orchid and a skink sunning himself.

Our next stop was Henham track there we found Bearded orchids and some Grevilleas flowering. We headed off to Freshwater Lake on the Victoria Valley road, but it too was dry and the water had receded to a puddle in the middle. Next we stopped at the Dunkeld rifle range where there was a sprinkling of flowers but in a better year it would be a spot well worth a visit.

Next we went to Dunkeld to the Arboretum, we couldn’t find the picnic tables so set up under a huge old beautiful Red Gum where we ate our lunch and had our AGM meeting. After the meeting we stopped at Griffin Picnic Area to look at the mosaic burns Parks have done over the last couple of winters to try to create an area which will provide refuge for some of the small creatures that live in that area should a wildfire come through. (note from Ed.: I’ve lost the photos of the Red Gum someone sent me, sorry).

AGM report: your new committee is

  • President – Rodney Thompson
  • Vice President – Leigh Gunn
  • Secretary – Wendy Bedggood
  • Treasurer – Mabel Brouwer
  • Committee – David Steane, Margo Sietsma, Prue Pyke, Ben Gunn and JanBert Brouwer.

Margo agreed to continue as Newsletter editor, Frank van der Peet has agreed to continue looking after our website and JanBert has offered to publicise our activities in an effort to grow our membership. The treasurer presented the financial report which was for the 12 months to the 30 June 2015, the income was $12,963.77 and expenditure was $847.95, $10.000 of our income was a Communities for Nature Grant which at the time of our AGM had not been spent.

Our membership fees have not changed since 2006 and as insurance and postage have increased it was proposed we should have an increase, this will be discussed thoroughly at a committee meeting early in the new year and in time for 2016/17 membership renewals.

AGM and Heatherlie Walk

We have had only one activity since our last newsletter, and that was our AGM and walk in the Heatherlie area on September 27. Our August walk had to be cancelled due to low numbers.

The weather for our Heatherlie explore was delightful and the flower display fascinating. We walked through a mix of unburnt and burnt areas. The burnt areas were burnt as part of a backburn lit during the horrid fires of January to stop the fire racing towards Halls Gap. But above us on the ridge we could see the ravaged bare slopes of the extremely hot burn.

Tiny bladderwarts: K.Wakefield
Tiny bladderwarts: K.Wakefield

In the burnt area the grass trees and redbeak orchids were in full flower, along with various other orchids, lilies and more. In the unburnt areas there was a good display of isopogon, tinsel lilies, daisies and spider orchids. Some of us were down on our tummies to photograph the minute flowers in the damp patches. We then moved to the Plantation Campground for our AGM. Our President (Margo), Vice-president (Leigh), Secretary (Wendy), and Treasurer (Mabel) were re-elected, and there were some changes to our committee with two newcomers added.

Orchid admirers
Orchid admirers

Margo gave her presidents report,listing the activities of the past year. In addition to our group activities, Wendy has represented FOGGs on the Round Table and Margo on both the Round Table and Advisory Committee. We have also sent letters to ministers about the burn targets and fees for camping in the park. We submitted comments to the committee on the proposed Grampians Peaks Trail supporting the trail in principal but voicing our concerns about the ‘On-Walk hiker lodges’. Margo also represented FOGGs at a workshop on South African Weed Orchid. We have financially supported two University students doing research in the Park and hope to have them talk to us in 2015.

Mabel presented the treasurers report which was kindly audited by Ron Goudie free of charge.

Election of Office Bearers

Janbert took the chair for the election of office bearers. Janbert thanked the office bearers for their work over the past twelve months.

All position were declared vacant, and all were elected unopposed.

President: Margo Sietsma
Treasurer: Mabel Brouwer
Vice President: Leigh Gunn,
Secretary: Wendy Bedggood
Committee Members: Rodney Thomson (although not present had agreed to going on the committee) JanBert Brouwer, Prue Pyke, Noushka Reiter, John Fisher, Alison Whiting. Ben Gunn, Kay Wakefield.
Webmaster: Frank Van der Peet;
Newsletter Editor: Margo Sietsma

The AGM was closed and we proceeded to a General Meeting.

  • We have $6543.43 in our account. We have had 2000 membership forms reprinted and will work on getting new members.
  • We discussed what activities members want. Wendy will send out a questionnaire to members to get some feedback to help with planning. For the rest of this year we will hold a walk and a social lunch where we will sort out next year’s programme.
  • Grants: we were successful in our application to fence off an area in the Ironbarks state Park near Stawell to protect a very rare orchid, and later, we hope, a site for its reintroduction. We have agreed to apply for a grant for protection and restoration of one of the Zumsteins cottages. (Unsuccessfully, I have just learnt).
  • Mabel suggested that we investigate reprinting the wildflower brochure put out a couple of years back by Grampians tourism.

Subsequent to the meeting we decided by email to make a donation to the VNPA (Victorian National Parks Association) to lobby the major political parties using the VNPAs recent Nature Conservation Review to get them to commit to having a better outcome for the environment if they (whichever party) win  the upcoming election.

Biodiversity Seminar

The 17th Wimmera Biodiversity Seminar was held on Thursday the 4th of September in Pomonal. This year’s theme was “Fired Up” – looking at all things to do with fire and biodiversity in our landscape. Quite a few of local FOGG members were able to attend and it was a really excellent day. Unfortunately we do not have space to do justice to all the speakers had to offer.

Speakers this year included:

Bill Gammage – adjunct professor at the Australian National University (ANU) and author of The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia. The book describes how Aboriginal Australians were actively using fire to cultivate the Australian landscape prior to European settlement. Bill expanded on his further research and learning, discussing the importance of the totem bond between people and animals, the fact that there were so many different words for “fire” – a different word for each stage of a fire and recovery, and different words for different kinds of fires. He described the burning practices as “planned, precise, local, universal, predictable and frequent.” Fire was an ally, “a scalpel rather than a sword.” “You see the fire in your mind before you light it – where it will go, where and when it will end”.

It was a hard act to follow but Dave Roberts our Grampians Ranger in Charge came next. He spoke of the challenge of balancing the risk to communities and the protection of landscapes, noting that we live in an environment much changed from that of 1778, with memories of Black Saturday and the impacts of climate change. He described the experiments with winter small patch burning in the Wannon area.

Darcy Prior of DEPI introduced us to the Phoenix Fire behaviour computer simulation model which is being developed to assist in predicting where and when a fire will spread.

Next Alan York who leads the Fire and Biodiversity Research Program within the Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science at the University of Melbourne. His research group investigates the interactions between fire, landscape pattern and biodiversity. Alan talked about the research into fire in the buloke forests which support the endangered red-tailed black cockatoos. In order to evaluate the balance between targeting the needs of this iconic bird and the needs of the rest of the plants and animals in the area his team focused on the insects there, in particular the ants, which are so important to the plants (their nests in the soil, their diet of leaves and seeds, their role in fertilisation). They collected 23,000 individual ants from 68 species! Their conclusion was that the needs of plants, insects, small mammals, and birds vary quite widely, but that the focus on this particular bird is not adversely affecting the rest of the environment in this location, but it could well in others. In the forest studied the best balance would appear to be 45% between 11 and 34 years between fires, 18% younger than this, 22% old to very old.

Natasha Schedvin of DEPI next spoke on research by La Trobe and Deakin Universities into fire in the Mallee, looking at the 5% target; the last four years of burning has burnt as much as in the previous 20 yrs. The Mallee was selected because of its biodiversity values and the readily flammable nature of the vegetation leading to typically high intensity fires – thereby presenting considerable risk to species if inappropriate fire regimes are applied. Similarly to the Buloke study they found that different elements (birds, insects, plants) have different fire regime requirements. They also looked at rainfall records to compare wet and dry years, Translating research into action plans for management is difficult but they think that looking at growth stages of plants is probably the best general method of deciding on burns.

Kristin Campbell of Deakin University spoke on her research into small mammal recovery post-fire in a time of climatic extremes. Her study surveyed 36 sites in the park over the last seven years. So three large fire events and one massive rain event. The trapping figures (13 species caught) showed just what a boom and bust cycle small mammals have. There were dramatic shifts in species composition and numbers over the years. Time since fire, prior productivity and rainfall are such important factors. This is why it is so essential to have longitudinal studies. She highlighted the importance of refuge areas especially sheltered damp places for recovery, which is important in a time of climate change.

Samantha Barron of Federation University spoke on her research into Sallow wattle. (I hadn’t realised before that it is a worldwide threat to ecosystems). She looked at sallow wattle in differing densities: from none to low, medium, heavy, collecting soil, looking at seedling emergence, collecting and sorting seeds in the soil. Sallow wattle follows creek lines mainly, it produces a huge seedbank, changes the ecosystem creating a positive feedback for itself, thus perpetuating the invasion process. The greater the infestation, the greater the impact on other vegetation. It was hard to assess what effect it has on the seedbank in the soil of other species. There’s a definite need for more research.

After all those speakers it was time to go out and look at the Park with Dave Handscombe. He showed us where the fire was particularly hot, where the back burns had been during the fire fighting, and where a recent planned burn had not stopped the fire, but had provided a less damaged patch. We also looked at an area of long unburnt forest which is where the newly discovered squirrel gliders were found. Plus he took us to an area covered in young sallow wattle seedlings.

After dinner, local Neil Marriott enthused us to support the proposed Wildlife Art, Museum and Gallery in Halls Gap. The final talk was by Kevin Parkyn – a Senior Meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology. Kevin assists emergency management agencies in predicting the behaviour of bushfires and planned burns. Again a fascinating topic and some amazing photos of fires causing wind changes.

So congratulations to the group organising this excellent day. FOGG Members from further afield should think about coming to next year’s seminar, which will be held somewhere different in the Wimmera.

Committee Report – Round Table

Margo attended the last Round table on 15th July at Mirranatwa Hall, but Wendy was unable to. This report was supplied by the organisers. A presentation was given on the ‘South Western Bushfire Landscape’ project. Andrew Govanston, Jill Read, Evelyn Nicholson and Steve Balharrie outlined the project. The project came out of the Black Saturday Bushfire Royal Commission and their recommendation that planning to reduce impacts of major bushfires, needed to be more strategic, be landscape-focused, and provide regular opportunities for community involvement and feedback opportunities.

The four key steps of the project were outlined. Step 1; Establish the Environmental Context (Enviro Scan); Step2; Identify Assets and Risk in the landscape; Step 3; Analyse the Risk; Step 4; Monitor implementation of the project and feedback to stakeholders and communities.

Steve informed the group on the Bushfire risk modelling undertaken across the state, and tabled the Victorian Risk profiles, before providing examples of Pheonix computer modelling demonstrating modelled effects of a planned burn.

Andy outlined how the Roundtable could assist the project by providing feedback on the draft Environmental Scan by

  • participating in future workshops to identify Assets and risks
  • selection of strategies
  • opportunities would arise to participate in monitoring and feedback sessions.

Participants then went out into the field to inspect two recently completed fuel reduction burns.

  1. Piccaninny; this burn was designed to reduce threat of wildfire to the Dunkeld community by reducing fuel on the western side of the Serra Range to prevent the fire ramping up the slope and then spotting over the rise into the township. The eastern side of the slope was inspected by delegates and discussion ensued about the low-key nature of the fuel reduction.
  2. The second site visited was at Lynch’s Track Heath, where the small, spot-burning technique has been used to develop a ‘quilt-like’ effect within the landscape to reduce fuels whilst protecting the diverse ground-dwelling mammals such as Bandicoot, Potoroo and Heath Mouse. Mike has written a detailed description of this experimental burn which I hope to summarise next issue.
Mike Stevens explains the small patch winter burning experiment
Mike Stevens explains the small patch winter burning experiment

After lunch, the 2014-15 Fire Operations Plan was presented, and participants were invited to submit their feedback by the end of August. The focus for this year’s FOP will be on a Mount Lubra fuel reduction and the western side of the Serra Range using Ariel Drip torch (ADT) mid-sloped scheduled over a number of years.

In the subsequent discussion, there was a request that next iteration of FOP map have fire-history included.

It was also suggested that African Weed Orchid infestation at Fergusons/Rocklands must be considered in vehicle and plant hygiene preparing and conducting burns in this location.

Participants expressed optimism for the future and the hope that we could look back in 10 years time and see the reduction of fuels without losing species abundance. Overall, people felt it is a good strategy that needs to be continued.

Graham Parkes summarised the day by drawing together information and observations from throughout the day;

  • There is a need for change towards bigger picture strategic planning, and a commitment is needed to implement.
  • The importance of prediction (using tools like Pheonix) and knowledge & history
  • Conversations are needed with our communities and agencies, and must feature local knowledge
  • Every area of the Grampians is different i.e. vegetation, soil, aspect, altitude (highlighted by Don)
  • Today we saw how we have responded to one type of environment.
  • And perhaps most importantly, we need to bring the community along on the journey.(as highlighted by Barry Clugston)

FOGG AGM

 

SEPTEMBER 28:

Ten of us met together at the home of Alison White and John Fisher at Wartook. Plus we had quite a few apologies.

 

EXTRACT FROM MINUTES

 

  • Minutes from last AGM were circulated and passed.

  • Proo gave her presidents report, reporting on our activities of the Clean up Australia Day in March, a visit to Brim Springs with Ben to visit some aboriginal rock art, an evening where Ryan presented some of the findings of the Bioscan, and a working bee at Red Gum walk. The flood recovery work has been completed but there is now the recovery work from the Victoria Ranges fire from February to be done. Zumsteins picnic area has been opened and Dave did a good job consulting with the community. The Park is still facing the environmental threats from government changing policies which have relaxed the rules on firewood collection, increased burning regimes as a result of the Black Saturday royal commission and recently the relaxing of rules to allow commercial developments within National Parks. A recent loss was the passing away of David Thompson.

  • Mabel presented the treasurer’s report which was kindly audited by Ron Goudie free of charge.

 

Election of Office Bearers

 

President: Margo Sietsmal

 

Vice President: Leigh Douglas

 

Treasurer: Mabel Brouwer.

 

Secretary: Wendy Bedggood.

 

Committee Members: Janbert Brouwer, Alison White, John Fisher, Proo Pyke, Noushka Reiter, Ben Gunn .

 

Webmaster: Frank Vanderpeet.

 

Newsletter editor: Margo Sietsma

 

 

The AGM was closed and we proceeded to a General Meeting.

 

 

MINUTES OF GENERAL MEETING SEPTEMBER

 

General Meeting Minutes(shortened)

  • Minutes from the meeting at the Parks Office on 24th April were accepted.
  • Treasurer Mabel that in August we donated $3000 to Museum Victoria to help travel costs for two of their post graduate students who are working on projects in the Park.

Business arising

  • Bioscan final report still not out.
  • The Grampians Peak Trail so far has had preliminary approval for camping sites along the way consisting of a pad for a tent, a 3 sided shelter for bad weather and toilets. More luxurious accommodation so far has not been proposed.
  • The proposal to put a chair lift to the top of the Pinnacle has been dropped.
  • Membership forms need to be redone.

Business

  • Wendy has checked on what we need to do re the changes to model rules. We have no need for action at the moment, just to remember that our committee should be Pres, VP, Treas, Sec and at least two ordinary members. We need 3 committee meetings a year and the quorum is 4 members.

  • FOGGs applied for a Healthy Parks Healthy People grant last December to do a planting at McKenzie Falls. We asked for $2800 and we were given $425. After discussions with Parks staff we decided to see if the money can be used to do some planting at a camp ground where sallow wattle has been removed or if it has to be used at McKenzie Falls we may just plant some trees in the car park.
  • Katherine Dyson the Parks volunteers co-ordinator hurt her ankle while out in the field requiring an operation and she will be away from work for several months. FOGGs will send a get well card.
  • Wendy passed round a draft letter to be sent to politicians, from FOGGs expressing our concern at the environmental impacts the burn targets will have on the biodiversity of our Park. Some small suggestions were made and this letter will be sent out shortly.
  • Proo moved that Margo be made a life member, all were in agreement. Mabel suggested that a certificate be made and presented to Margo.
  • Proposed activities for next year, were a meeting in February (probably 3rd weekend), March Cleanup Australia day, April meeting with Dave Roberts July an evening talk at Parks Office, other months to be decided.
  • The meeting was closed and six of us set of to do the new Zumsteins to McKenzie Falls walk

AGM REPORT 2012

FOGG AGM 15th September 2012 held at McCanns Dam near Stawell.
13 members met at lunch time after our wildflower walk nearby.
Business

  1. Minutes from last AGM were circulated and passed,
  2. Proo gave her president’s report saying that things have settled down from the natural disasters experienced over the past couple of years. The big issues over the last year have been the attack on the environment by the current government and their policies. The cutting of biodiversity staff, the relaxing of rules on firewood collection, cleaning up rivers, increased burning regimes as a result of the Black Saturday Royal Commission and recently the proposed relaxing of rules to allow commercial developments within National Parks. Membership numbers have stayed about the same and we have had some good activities with good attendance during the year.
  3. In Mabel’s absence Janbert presented the treasurers report which was kindly audited by Ron Goudie free of charge. The report was accepted. Balance is $6,676.95
  4. Election of Office Bearers – All position were declared vacant, and all were elected unopposed.
  • President: Proo Pyke, (It is noted that Proo had specified that she would only be president for 2 years and this is her third year so we need to find someone new next year.)
  • Vice President: Leigh Gunn,
  • Treasurer: Mabel Brouwer,
  • Secretary: Wendy Bedggood,
  • Webmaster: Frank Vanderpeet (Subject to his acceptance) If he is too busy Korny Sietsma could also help.
  • Newsletter editor: Margo Sietsma .
  • Committee Members: Those at the meeting were co-opted to the committee with the addition of Gail Pollard. Committee:- Janbert Brouwer, Ben Gunn, Win Pietsch, Thelma Argyll, John Fisher, Alison White, Ewen Johnson, Jack Loats and Noushka Reiter.

The AGM was closed and we proceeded to a General Meeting.

General Meeting
Minutes from the meeting at Cooinda Burong on 14th January 2012.were accepted.
Business arising
Cooinda Burong, Parks would like us to continue some monitoring of large fenced areas. Proo, Margo and Wendy visited these plots and one lot of fencing is beyond repair and another requires quite a lot of work. The one we normally do the Ptilotus count in, is probably the only one worth continuing with. Ryan was going to get someone from Parks in Melbourne to come and have a look at the plots and discuss with us possibilities. Proo had asked David Lockwood who monitors Cydelia about helping with our enclosures, so she will let him know we are still unsure of what is happening yet. Margo was involved with students doing volunteer work earlier in the year and they removed fencing from smaller plots and spray painted pegs around the outside of the large Ptilotus enclosure.
New Business
Private development in parks
The Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) put out a report recently. While actually suggesting that the priority for developments should be outside the parks, it said for some types of investments the park may be a superior location, opening the door for some developers to get into parks. Proo was contacted and interviewed by the ABC radio, and the Age came to Halls Gap and interviewed Margo and Dot Hoffman.
The VNPA had a couple of articles in their recent newsletter and had included a postcard for members to fill in and send to the premier. The post card opposes the opening up of parks to private development.
ACTION 1 Wendy will contact VNPA to see if we can obtain more of these postcards for our members to send off. She will also ask what other things VNPA are planning to do in opposition to these government moves. (But no more postcards were available, so we haven’t been able to distribute these)
ACTION 2 Proo will contact Will Flamstead from Halls Gap tourism to suggest that environmental groups are also represented on the sub committee steering the development of the Grampians North South walk.
ACTION 3 Proo will contact David Thompson to find out about other groups opposing the proposal.
ACTION 4 Wendy. We will start writing letters suitable to send to the papers and politicians expressing our opposition to private development in Parks. Letters to Premier, Hugh, the Age, Herald Sun and local papers.
Proo sent some comments on behalf of FOGGs, on the scoping study for the WIM 150 mine. The deadline for comments was before our AGM. (see letter on p10).
October 27th was proposed for our Red Gum walk working bee. (which didn’t go ahead, postponed to May)
Some time in last week of November we will meet at the Moco gallery for a break up and planning for next years activities.
Win and Thelma donated us a scrapbook of local newspaper cuttings from the period surrounding the opening of the Grampians National Park which had been compiled by the Stawell Field Naturalists. It makes fascinating reading. It is good to see how some of those most resistant have now become staunch advocates for the Park. We will consult with the Halls Gap History Association as to where to keep it. (Subsequent discussion : Museum Victoria are interested in scanning it and giving copies to us, the local Parks Office and the History Association).

ACTIVITY REPORTS December 2011

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 10: AGM AND WATER CRITTERS. (actually the water critters came first,so I’ll do them that way round).
Joel Boyd of the Wimmera CMA met us in Halls Gap and showed us pictures and samples of what we were likely to find in Stony Creek. We then proceeded to dip our nets in to the water and bring our catch up to study with magnifying glasses. It was too early in spring for some animals but we had fun studying the tiny creatures we caught.. Yes the creek is healthy. Photos are on the website.
We then adjourned to Brambuk for lunch, AGM and general meeting.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT: Prue presented a verbal report. The floods affected our programme quite a bit, but also brought some good activities. The geology excursion with Ross Cayley was excellent, and many FOGG members joined in the excursions organised by Parks Vic and VICROADS. We hope that we will be able to do more in the coming year.
TREASURER’S REPORT: Mabel presented a printed report. Our books were audited this year by Ron Goudie at no charge. It was decided that the membership fee remain at $10 per household.
ELECTION
President: Proo Pyke
Secretary: Wendy Bedggood
Treasurer: Mabel Brouwer
Webmaster: Frank van der Peet
Editor: Margo Sietsma
Assistant Editor: Kathy McDonald
Committee Members: Kathy McDonald, Alison White & John Fischer, Ewen Johnson, Rob Lucas, Jan-Bert Brouwer, Leigh Douglas & Ben Gunn
Frank van der Peet to be thanked once again for his professional attention to our website & assistance with other computer-based necessities.

GENERAL MEETING
1. Ewen reported that the Parfett family were most appreciative of the tribute to Stan Parfett, with the new table at the Red Gum Walk.
2. Friends of Zumsteins have closed and donated their funds of $1300 to FOGG. It was unanimously decided to have the money used for the repairs to the Zumsteins area in such a way that it is something distinctive, not just swallowed up in general costs. Suggestions were: a picnic table, plants, the water garden. Prue reported that there are ongoing discussions with the local community as to how best to restore the area, with an emphasis on the historic area.
3. Prue raised the future of our annual Ptilotis erebescens count for discussion. It does not appear to be a priority for Parks Vic. And the lack of maintenance of the tiny plots prejudices the relevance of our statistics. It was decided to ask Ben and Wendy to write up what we have been doing, and the results. We will find out what work Mike Stevens did on counting all the herbs in the bigger enclosures, and whether that could be worth continuing. Ben suggested that we could move to ptilotis counting every 5 years. We decided that we would further discuss this with Ryan Duffy.
4. Ben raised that we need to do more hands on activities. Ideas are weeding and rubbish collection.
5. Eric reminded us that we should be asking the local staff what they want us to do. He also reminded us how much valuable local and historic knowledge we have in our group.

SEPT 29 TO OCT 4 GRAMPIANS WILDFLOWER SHOW HALLS GAP.

Once again a successful show, which couldn’t happen without the dedicated help of our FOGG members. We will be again looking for your support for next year’s show. Our theme was the big wet and its effects. Next year will be our 75th show, and we are looking for ideas to make it a real celebration.

BURNING ISSUES GRAMPIANS ROUNDTABLE MEETINGS 2011 Wendy Bedggood

I attended this meeting on the 27 September as the FOGGs representative.
The round table is a very diverse group of people all interested in the Grampians and the impacts of natural (and not so natural) events which happen to it. The roundtable is intended to try to get a better understanding of how activities, effect the various users of the Grampians. I think it will only work if the representatives take back to their groups what they have learned from these meetings. So far we seem to have dealt mainly with fire but flood and other issues will be on future agendas.
We identified that there were still some gaps in the membership of stakeholders represented at the roundtable and that 5 additional members could be sought without the group becoming too unwieldy. Expressions of interest will be sought from other relevant groups . We also set out some rules for eligibility and membership for the group.
Graham Parkes also talked to us about the Fire Mangemnet Plan (FMP), Fire Ecology Strategy (FES) and Fire Operations Plan(FOP) and how these fit together and guide fire management decisions. He also explained the four new fire zones, which are Asset protection, Strategic Wildfire Moderation Zone, Ecological Management Zone and Fire Exclusion Zones and how these new zones effect the planning for controlled burns.
We then looked at a fire scenario similar to the Mt Lubra fire and discussed what lessons were learned and how these lessons will influence the future plan burn strategies to try to protect the Grampians from future wildfires.

Code of Practice for Fire Management on Public Land draft consultaion.
I was invited and represented FOGG’s at this meeting in Ballarat. The new ‘code’ addresses many of the concerns handed down in the Royal commission on the 2007 Bushfire. The ‘Code’ will be passed by parliament and last 3-5 years, and as such any minor changes (even a comma) have to go back to parliament. The document has therefore been made strategic and is designed to be an overarching guide to operational documents yet to be drafted. The operational documents will be more easily changed as need arises and also have input from the public.

22nd Annual Grampians Fire Conference
A large crowd gathered at the Mooralla Golf club for morning tea and an overview of the day. We then proceeded along the Goat Track to view areas which are on the planned burn list for this season. We heard about the burn history of the area, the cultural heritage considerations and the reasons behind the proposed burns and the role they play in hopefully abating any future wild fires in the area. One area we stopped at was ready to be burnt last year but when crews went in to check the area, an empty bus was found so, with hikers out and about the burn had to be cancelled. This illustrated the complexities for staff when carrying out some of these fire management operations.
We ended up at the Victoria Valley air base where lunch was served. New equipment was on display. We were also addressed by a researcher from Mildura DPI who told us about a collaborative research program between Curtin University, the WA department of Agriculture, Adelaide University and Victorian Department of Primary Industries which is looking at smoke taint in the Wine industry. The research hopes to find out at what growth stages grapes are the most sensitive to smoke. Another guest speaker was a weather forecaster from the Bureau of Meteorology, she specializes in weather forecasting and implications for fire. Various DSE and CFA staff can contact her directly to gain forecasts for their specific small areas, as forecasts broadcast on radio or put up on the web tend to cover larger areas and have to be general in wording. The day was informative and well worth attending.
After attending these events and being involved in other workshops where fire management has been discussed, it is apparent that fire management is very complex and not an easy subject to get your head around.
Ben also attended the day and added a comment on the Weather talk; “Fascinating that the water level in Lkae Eyre has an impact on Victoria’s summer weather”.

NEWS FROM THE ADVISORY GROUP Margo Sietsma

The next AG meeting is due on September 13. Each member received copies of the Fire Operations Plan and the new Fire Management Zones to examine and respond to before this meeting. Remember that if people have any questions they wish to raise with Parks Management they can do so via the Advisory Group. You don’t have to be a member of any particular group. The aim is for the AG to be a two way communication: people bringing ideas and suggestions to the Park, and park staff explaining what is happening, so we on the AG can bring that out to the public. In some ways the modern tools of web pages, facebook and the like are changing the way PV communicates with the public, so the role of the AG may need to change. However direct personal contact beats the mass produced content on the internet every time. But then there’s a corresponding responsibility for the AG members to pass on their info to their communities.