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Firewood collectors reminded season is closed

Monday 22 July, 2013

Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) are reminding the public that penalties apply for collecting firewood on public land outside the collection season during winter.

Parks Victoria Northern Rivers Acting District Manager Chris Mercier said the domestic firewood collection season has closed until 1 September and officers are conducting regular patrols to ensure people are not collecting wood on public land, particularly in protected national parks.

“The rules around firewood collection are clear. It is illegal to collect firewood in state forests, parks and reserves outside the Autumn and Spring firewood collection seasons,” said Mr Mercier.

Officers have recently issued a number of infringements and warnings relating to illegal firewood collection in national parks near Barmah, Wangaratta and Beechworth.

“Firewood collection is not permitted in national parks, with the exception of Barmah National Park where legislation allows the local community to collect sawlog residue during firewood collection seasons.”

“Rangers recently seized chainsaws, pending a court outcome, from two men detected allegedly committing offences relating to illegal firewood collection at Warby-Ovens National Park. An investigation is underway into possible offences under the National Parks Act 1975 and the Wildlife Act 1975, including felling and cutting of habitat trees, driving off-road and the commercial sale of firewood,” said Mr Mercier.

In the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court, a Gisborne man was recently fined $2750 plus court costs for similar offences including driving off-road to fell a tree and remove it from Lerderderg State Park last year.

DEPI and Parks Victoria have also been working with Victoria Police to detect illegal wood collection and other unlawful activities in Operation Detroit in Barmah National Park.  To date officers have issued more than 100 infringement notices, 30 summons and more than 150 warnings for a range of offences relating to illegal firewood collection, possession of firearms, illegal hunting and dogs in the national park.

Firewood collection on public land is only permitted from designated firewood collection areas during designated times of the year. Heavy penalties apply to those that do not comply with regulations.

Typical on the spot fines are around $577. Offences that go to court may be liable for fines up to $7218, one year imprisonment or both.

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