Media release | 26 March 2022
A $7 million upgrade of 76 kilometres of fire trails is underway in Werakata National Park to help protect the Cessnock community from bushfires.
Environment Minister James Griffin said the six month project is being led by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and will also cover trails in the State Conservation Area, Crown Lands reserves and adjoining Cessnock lands.
“Our National Parks team manages the most extensive fire trail network in the State, with about 40,000 kilometres of roads and trails,” Mr Griffin said.
“This work in the Werakatas involves a range of partners, because fire doesn’t recognise lines on maps, and collaborative efforts like this one help us achieve the best solutions for land management and communities.”
Works involve key partnerships with Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council, Wonnarua Elders, the Rural Fire Service, Crown Lands, private land holders and Cessnock City Council.
All up 24 fire trails will be upgraded by NPWS with funding support from Crown Lands and the Rural Fire Service.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the important upgrades include track surfaces, drainage, and new turning and passing bays.
“Bushfire preparation requires cooperation between local government, local brigades, government agencies and land managers which is vital for the protection of our communities,” Ms Cooke said.
“The upgrades will also help keep our firefighters safe in their efforts to protect people and property from the threat of fire.”
The Werakatas cover more than 6,000 hectares of Cessnock bushland and contain strategic fire trails prioritised by the Lower Hunter Bush Fire Management Committee (BFMC) under the Fire Access and Fire Trail (FAFT) network program.
Minister for Crown Lands Kevin Anderson said the collaboration was vital for upgrading trails crossing lands managed by National Parks and Wildlife Service, Mindaribba LALC, Crown Lands, private owners and Cessnock City Council.
“These upgrades will help fire agencies carry out key bushfire suppression and hazard reduction activities across land with multiple managers,” Mr Anderson said.
Planning and assessment of 76 kilometres of fire trail upgrades in sensitive conservation areas has been a significant job.
“I particularly want to thank the Wonnarua Aboriginal community representatives for their knowledge and support to ensure Aboriginal cultural items will be protected as part of the project,” Mr Griffin said.
Trails and park areas will close for periods from March while the six-month project takes place.
Updates on closures can be found online at Werakata State Conservation Area alerts.