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Recovery begins for Freeling farmers

Recovery begins for Freeling farmers

Farmers hit by the Pinery Bushfire are embarking on a massive recovery programme with support from Light Regional Council who are seeking government assistance.

Mr Richard Dodson, LRC General Manager, Infrastructure and Environment, said the November fire left a “charred canvas” in the Council area and landholders at a community meeting highlighted that burnt pine trees were unlikely to recover and were at risk of collapse causing safety concerns.

Based on site visits and farmer feedback, it is believed around 3,000 trees may need to be removed.

Light Regional Council are now working on a “Pinery Fires – Tree Affected Programme” which will engage local farmers and farm hands to work under Council supervision to remove and dispose of the fire affected trees and re-plant suitable species.

To fund the scheme, Council are seeking a $60,000 grant from State Government to match  council’s contribution of $60,000 along with a $120,000 grant from the Commonwealth Government in the hope of  starting the programme at the end of this month.

Freeling farmer, Mr Gavin Schuster said support would be welcomed as tree removal is not covered by insurance policies.

“All this tree removal, which is very expensive, is going to have to come out of the cash flow for farmers. Obviously in this next twelve months, farmers are going to be very cash strapped and if we can get a helping hand from Council and government to do this, it would be terrific,” Mr Schuster said.

“That’s why we want to work with Council and see if we can get some funding to be able to help farmers to clean the landscape up and get some new trees planted to make the area look better and get it back to how it was.”

Aleppo Pines are the main tree species needing removal.

“This area would have the highest population of pine trees in any district of the fire ground,” said Mr Schuster who is eager to get the region cleaned up.

“We need to remove them as quickly as possible because they are an eye sore for the district and just a horrible reminder of the fires that went through. The quicker we can remove them, the better,” he said.

For the full story see this week’s edition of The Leader.