Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

'Vandalism' at Morgan's Beach

An Echuca resident has described broken trees found at Morgan’s Beach ahead of preparations for a controlled burn 'vandalism'.

KATHLEEN TONINI April 12, 2013 3:10am

Damage to the Barmah forest at Morgan's Beach. Photo: submitted

When Echuca resident Nerelie Teese ventured out to Morgan’s Beach in Barmah National Park last week, what she saw horrified her.

She often visited the area to take in the sights and sounds, the trees and the native animals.

But instead of tranquility and natural beauty, Ms Teese was greeted by broken trees and bushes; what she described as ‘‘vandalism’’.

What she saw was Department of Sustainability and Environment preparations for a controlled burn in the area.

Ms Teese was so angered by what she saw, she took video footage and photographic evidence and sent it to Member for Rodney Paul Weller, Premier Denis Napthine, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Environment and Climate Change Minister Ryan Smith.

Ms Teese said the damage to the forest was permanent.

She said while campers and visitors were subject to stringent restrictions when in the park, Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment staff had been leaving a path of destruction through the forest.

‘‘In 150 years of controlled cattle grazing and timber harvesting, not one cow, mob of cattle or timber worker caused or created the kind of permanent damage to the ecosystem as current management,’’ she said .

‘‘It was absolutely devastating, because that area has never had that sort of vandalism and damage.

‘‘People must be accountable; I expect heads to roll over this.’’

Ms Teese said despite the destruction, the Morgan’s Beach area of the forest was very beautiful.

‘‘I reckon this was never, ever meant to become public knowledge.’’

However, Victorian National Parks Association’s Nick Roberts said he had not had any complaints about forest damage by DSE staff.

He said the main complaint from the community was staff and resource cuts to both DSE and Parks Victoria.

‘‘Providing that they do rehabilitation work following the burn, I don’t think it would be any great concern,’’ Mr Roberts said.

He said the burns being done by DSE were being done in response to community concerns about fuels loads in the forest.

Mr Roberts also said the burns would be done regardless of whether the land was national park, state forest or other public land.

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