Peace talk after fire ban woes

PEACE talks are being arranged at Rainbow Beach over significant economic disruption to Beach businesses, caused by State Government fire and access bans in national parks, despite rain in many areas.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service claimed its bans remained necessary, even after days of rain, because soil moisture had not reached the level which the QPWS regarded as a safety indicator.

The bans greatly disrupted tourism during the financially critical Christmas-New Years holiday period, which saw the end of dry weather and a corresponding end to all fire danger warnings issued by Emergency Management Queensland throughout the Gympie Region.

Gympie Regional Council’s Corporate Governance and Finance Committee chairman Donna Neilson reported that talks were to be arranged between the Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association, QPWS and councillors.

Cr Neilson said the idea for talks followed a request from the business group for council to fund an independent fire assessment in the area.

“The request arose out of concerns that fire bans imposed by QPWS were restrictive to tourism, particularly campers and were not lifted in a timely manner,” Cr Neilson said.

The problems began in late December, when rain broke the prolonged dry spell which had created serious fire danger over many areas of the Cooloola Coast and elsewhere.

As hinterland camping areas showed fewer campers because of rain, beach businesses complained that QPWS was not helping with continuing bans on the camp fires which are a big part of any camping experience, they also continued the closure of almost all walking tracks through the area’s national parks.

Although Bureau of Meteorology figures showed that rainfall was much less at the coast than inland, but business people said conditions were still damp and cool, warranting a winding back of fire danger tactics.

The QPWS reported camper numbers down at Inskip Point but near capacity at Teewah. A spokesperson said the fire and access bans would not be lifted for some days.

Gympie Times

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