Cross tenure prescribed burning connects land managers in Millstream Chichester

Prescribed burning has taken place in Millstream Chichester National Park following consultation with Traditional land owners, local pastoralists and miners to reduce bush fire risks across lease boundaries.

Pedro Palheiro DPaW and Kingsley Woodley Ngurrawaana Rangers mopping up. Credit Jessica Allan

Pedro Palheiro DPaW and Kingsley Woodley Ngurrawaana Rangers mopping up. Credit Jessica Allan

The Department of Parks and Wildlife worked in collaboration with the Ngurrawaana Rangers, Coolawanyah Station and Rio Tinto to complete the cross-tenure fire management in April–May of this year, with support from Rangelands NRM through funding from the National Landcare Programme.

The mitigation program for the region is under guidance of Parks and Wildlife fire officers Owen Donovan and Pedro Palheiro, who are well experienced in the area.

Rangelands NRM’s Pilbara Corridors Program Manager Ian Cotton said six Ngurrawaana Rangers were provided with one-on-one fire awareness training from Parks and Wildlife, and then assisted with the reduction of fuel loads around the Ngurrawaana community. They then went on to support Rio Tinto in their fire practices.

A total of 52,412 hectares were burnt at the prescribed rate of greater than 20 per cent, consisting of 74 km of edging along public roads, rail lines, power lines and pipelines.

Ngurrawaana Ranger Kingsley with Owen Donovan Parks and Wildlife’s Pilbara Fire Coordination Officer carrying out prescribed burning at the Ngurawaana Community. Credit Jessica Allan

Ngurrawaana Ranger Kingsley with Owen Donovan Parks and Wildlife’s Pilbara Fire Coordination Officer carrying out prescribed burning at the Ngurawaana Community. Credit Jessica Allan

Mr Cotton said Parks and Wildlife look forward to ongoing work with the Rangers as part of the funding provided by Pilbara Corridors Project.

“Future fire management activities are planned which were discussed as part of the fire management on ground review of prescribed burning to date at Millstream Chichester National Park in late June.”

The prescribed burning and activities of the Parks and Wildlife fire team were praised by the Association of Bush Fire Brigades WA. The Association’s President Dave Gossage AFSM and Vice President Phil Penny recently spent several days on a tour of volunteer bushfire brigades and local governments in the Pilbara.

The group took part in a joint flight with Kim from Coolawanyah Station to demonstrate the mosaic burning results and a joint flight with Frank TO from Ngurawaana to observe the mosaic burning west of the community.

“We were very impressed with the connection to country and understanding of the fire and fuel management throughout the region,” President Dave Gossage AFSM said.

“Our team were fortunate to get an insight into the rangers’ work in engaging with Indigenous communities and working with them on mitigation planning and activities.”

Evidence of recent prescribed burns by Parks and Wildlife in the area showed minimal impact on the landscape but enormous fire mitigation benefits.

“This is another demonstration of how reduction of fuels (bush fire mitigation) can be achieved in a responsible manner that helps sustain the environmental cycles under the guidance of experienced officers,” Mr Cotton said.

“Ultimately the aim is to enhance ecosystem condition, function, connectivity and resilience of habitats in the Fortescue Catchment,” he said.
“It’s important to take into consideration cultural and heritage values, threatened species, pastoral and mining activities, and wider natural resource considerations in proposed fire management.”