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Red gum thinning trial to go ahead in NSW

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has defended its tender process for a red gum thinning trial in a southern Riverina park, after criticism from Deniliquin Council. Source: ABC Rural

The NSW Government is seeking federal approval for the trial in 22 areas of the Murray Valley National Park east of Deniliquin.

The Deniliquin Council has criticised management of the red gum park since 2010 saying the area is overgrown and there is a rising risk of bushfires from the build up of fuel.

The 5-year trial aims to measure the environmental and fire reduction benefits of thinning the red gums.

Tenders to remove the trees close on January 8, 2016.

Deniliquin Council says the call for tenders coincides with the busy Christmas/New Year period and many local loggers say they will not participate.

The National Parks Service’s Regional Manager Ross McDonnell says tenders opened on December 2 and extra time has been allowed.

“Normally tenders of this kind are open for three weeks, but we’ve extended it out to five weeks to allow people additional time to put forward tenders,” he said.

“We’re trying to ensure this work is undertaken at the right time of the year, before the next flooding period occurs.

“For that to happen we really need to have the tender process completed by very early in 2016,” he said.

The trial was originally slated to occur in national parks on both sides of the Murray River, but the Victorian Government withdrew its support for the initiative last year.

The NSW Parks Service is confident the Federal Government will sign off on a smaller scale red gum thinning program in the Murray Valley National Park.

Mr McDonnell says if the Commonwealth gives its approval, the thinning would start in Autumn.

“Indications are at this stage, that we’re quite confident that an approval will be provided.

“We’re not sure what the conditions will be that are attached to that approval, but we’re quite confident at this stage.

“At this stage the trial’s looking like it will commence, subject to Commonwealth approval, in around March or April next year and the activity itself, the ecological thinning that’s planned to occur, is likely to occur for nine or 10 weeks,” he said.

“So it should be finished by May or June.”