Blue Mountains News

Damage Bill to Council’s Bushland Reserves after Summer Bush Fires

By Blue Mountains City Council
Posted: 25 Aug 2020
The summer bush fires left significant hazards and damaged infrastructure at a number of Blue Mountains City Council bushland reserves including Mount York, Pulpit Rock and Popes Glen.

Around 1000 ha of Council managed bushland in the upper Blue Mountains were severely burnt, significantly impacting both biodiversity and recreational infrastructure assets including walking tracks, lookouts, footbridges, signs and stairs.  

The repair bill for the damage is expected to be at least $1 million.

In February, the Blue Mountains was further impacted by heavy rain resulting in large scale soil loss, landslips and erosion, and further impacts on recreational infrastructure.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said: “Some of these areas still remain closed as Council works to repair damage to the infrastructure, manage erosion and provide adequate time for the bushland to recover. 

“By keeping affected areas closed, we are allowing them to regenerate. We are also trying to manage the risk to public safety in these areas from hazards such as unstable trees, missing or damaged infrastructure, and unstable rocks and soil.”

“Council is very conscious of how important these areas are to the local community and our tourism economy, and we are working as fast as we can with the resources available to us, to fix the issue.”

Mayor Mark Greenhill said: “Along with 32 other NSW Councils, Blue Mountains City Council was included as one of the most severely bush fire impacted councils in NSW; and received $1 million from the Federal Government for locally-led recovery projects and activities deemed essential for the recovery and renewal of the community.

“This funding has provided significant assistance for on-ground bush fire recovery works and $200,000 has been allocated to bushland reserves. Council is also relying on insurance to assist with repair and replacement costs to bush fire affected areas.

“One of our challenges is that much of the damaged infrastructure was very old, and built in a different era. Re-building in some of these sensitive environments, with modern standards and materials, and appropriate environmental assessment, is costly and time-consuming. As an example, the sections of Charles Darwins Walk which survived the floods, are those which Council had recently renewed to modern standards. It is very important that we continue to build this kind of resilience into our assets.

“I ask for the community’s understanding and patience while we do this as it may take some time to resolve, but in the long-run, it is in everyone’s interest if we rebuild stronger, better and more sustainably than what was there before.”

Rebuilding in our sensitive and precious environment also requires very particular skills and wherever possible, Council is utilising skilled local trades people to do this work, but understandably, they are in big demand across the mountains. This is putting further pressure on Council’s repair timelines.

As a result of the above, some popular sites may remain closed for a prolonged period, and we ask that for your own safety, and to protect our precious but damaged environment, you respect the closures.

The natural disaster in February that closed Cliff Drive and Leura Cascades has also left a complicated and expensive clean-up for Council. Get more information.

Council’s Charles Darwin Walk, the other popular visitor area affected by February’s flash floods, has a clean-up bill that is expected to be up to $1 million. Get more information.

 
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