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Do the right thing or pay the price

Thursday 7 March, 2013

With the opening of the Autumn Firewood Collection Season this week (8 March), rangers are urging the community to do the right thing as heavy penalties apply to the illegal collection of firewood.

Parks Victoria Mallee District Chief Ranger Dale Antonysen said while a permit is no longer needed to collect firewood from designated areas, it is important that people adhere to regulations or face the consequences.

“Firewood is a limited resource and we need to ensure that the supply available is distributed fairly so the people that really need it don’t miss out,” said Mr Antonysen.

“An individual can collect two cubic metres of wood per person per day and there is a maximum household collection limit of 16 cubic metres per financial year.

“Firewood collection areas may be closed if conditions become unsuitable, such as high fire danger, or if firewood supplies become low,” he said.

To help deter illegal activity and protect parks and forests, heavy penalties apply for offences relating to illegal firewood collection such as collecting firewood outside of designated collection areas and seasons, felling timber, collecting more than the maximum allowable amounts and selling the wood.

Last year, Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) prosecuted offenders in the Mildura Magistrate’s Court for illegally removing firewood from public land.

A Red Cliffs man was fined $1000 plus court costs, and ordered to forfeit the collected firewood to the Crown, after he was caught removing it from outside a designated collection area near Iraak. In a separate matter, a man from Merbein was convicted and fined $500 for charges relating to the felling of a River Red Gum in State forest at Merbein Common.

“Parks Victoria Rangers and DSE Officers will be conducting regular patrols of parks, forests and reserves,” said Mr Antonysen.

“We’ll be using surveillance technology in some locations, and acting on public information to detect and prosecute those who do the wrong thing in the coming months.”

Typical on the spot fines are around $560. Offences that go to court may be liable for fines up to $7042, one year imprisonment or both.

For more information or if you suspect illegal activity call the DSE Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or visit www.dse.vic.gov.au/firewood.

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