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Friends of the Bannockburn Bush

Removal of Firewood from the Bannockburn Bush is Illegal.
Firewood can only be removed from designated areas. It is a pity that DEPI created confusion last year with some poorly worded articles in the press. But that has now been clarified on their website.

However, for the good planners, all is not lost. Keep a look out for notification that it is now OK to collect the “tailings” from the areas in which the Sugar gums (not native bush) have been harvested.

WARNING. Last week I heard then interviewed a man and his young son who had driven into the bush, off track and were happily felling dead yellow gums. NO, NO, NO. This is wrong on several fronts.
• He had driven his vehicle into the bush away from the made roads
• He was felling large old trees that are perfect habitat for hollow-nesting woodland birds, our most endangered bird group
• He was removing fallen timber that, as it breaks down provides food for insects which in turn are food for birds.
• It is illegal

While the person was sensible when I discussed this with him, he declined my suggestion that he unload the timber from his trailer leaving me no choice but to report his rego to the Bannockburn police. Hopefully they will be able to provide him with further details.

Here is a sobering extract from the DEPI website which lists permitted firewood areas. Is a trailer of wood worth $7218?

Community urged to report firewood theft from Rushworth
26 May 2014
Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) compliance officers are investigating reports of people illegally taking firewood from Rushworth State Forest.

DEPI Murray Goldfields Acting District Manager Paul Bates said the Department has received information from the community about incidents at Rushworth State Forest including people cutting down trees and removing wood from sections of the forest that are not designated collection areas.

"Heavy penalties of fines of up to $7218, one year imprisonment or both apply to these offences," Mr Bates said.

"Only fallen timber can be collected from designated firewood collection areas during a firewood collection season, and people are not to damage, disturb or destroy dead or live standing trees or collect visibly hollow logs or logs growing moss or fungi.

"We're concerned that some people are operating outside of the law and we welcome more information from the community about people cutting down trees and collecting firewood illegally from Rushworth Forest.

"DEPI and Parks Victoria staff patrol forests and take a zero tolerance approach to those who are breaking firewood collection laws.

"Information about the location of firewood collection areas and the rules governing firewood collection is on the DEPI website:

And at:

"Anyone with information about the illegal collection of firewood is encouraged to contact DEPI on 136 186."

Information is also available on the Golden Plains Shire website.

Note that areas where firewood removal is permitted will be clearly advertised and signed by DEPI. If there are no signs, you can’t take the wood. Neither the Bannockburn Bush nor the Inverleigh Nature Conservation Reserve is likely to be permitted areas, except for sugar gum as above.

Trail Bike Update
Fortunately, the only trail bike riders we have encountered during the month have been doing the right thing and staying on the made roads. 

I stopped one rider to explain that he needed a recreational vehicle licence displayed if he wanted to ride legally in the bush. He said that he was having trouble attaching it to his bike so that it did not fall off. I offered to help him solve the problem if he wanted to go and get it, but he must have fixed it himself as he did not return!

Rubbish Clean-up Day coming soon. Still
Although only 5 of us were available on the day on Sunday May 25 to do some tidying up, we made good progress. We ‘consolidated some of the windblown dumped piles so when the skip get organised we will be able to load it quickly. Thanks to Kate, her son Harvey, Arnie and Fran.

Dale Smithyman at Golden Plains Shire is still on the rubbish trail and another clean-up day will be coming soon. Please check your emails for a date over the next week or so. Hopefully.

Revegetation Site Update.
While the trees and shrubs are doing very well, the native grasses are struggling against the introduced species. We will have to have a good BBQ to discuss what to do next.

At least we have nailed the non-grass weeds such as Capeweed, and Blanket weed. Kate and I could only find a couple of each to pull out. We also plugged a tunnel under the fence and filled in a few new rabbit burrows. Next time we will need to saw off some branches that have fallen onto the fence.

Not Happy Golden Plains Shire
It was very interesting attending the irate ratepayers’ meeting last month. My own comment on the rate hike emphasised to need for a smarter council that was more savvy about its dealings with major conservation issues. In the past we have had very expensive VCAT battles where a very large amount of money has gone to legal practices in what has proved to be lost or plain wrong causes. 

Let’s hope they do not start another expensive legal battle trying to force a heavy vehicle bypass through our precious bushland reserve.

Coming Events
• Rubbish collection day, coming in June some time. Stay in touch for a time and date from Dale.

• Friends of Inverleigh Nature Conservation Reserve AGM, Friday June 20, 7pm? at the Teesdale Hall.

• The Seventeenth Yellow Gum Festival will be on Saturday July 19. Remember we had a big event for the 15th YGF but the 16th was dedicated to a public meeting to discuss the heavy vehicle bypass through the bush.

• Sunday September 7th Bushcare’s  Major Day out, a nationally co-ordinated event.

Stuart McCallum, Friends of Bannockburn Bush