The introduction of improved pasture species into our regions has …

Comment on Fire in the desert: a formidable threat and a tool by Steve Brown.

The introduction of improved pasture species into our regions has been a great blessing for pastoralists, improving our soil’s fertility and producing vast amounts more fodder from every rainfall event. Naturally the greater productivity also brings with it greater fire risk. Risk that must be managed. The very small available population to take on that greater management role must raise questions about overall land use and structure in Central Australia. Government should be giving serious consideration to allowing pastoralists whose properties can demonstrate marked pasture improvement by species such as buffel to subdivide into smaller more manageable lots, this way also lifting the population of available personnel to deal with major fire events and other land management issues.
There is however one fundamental issue that must be addressed by our various land management agencies in order to make way for a more sustainable management of our landscape. That is to change the fundamental misconception rife within land management agencies that country needs to burn, “that it is OK to burn”!
It is not OK! It does not need to burn,ever! The attitude derives from a paternal belief about Aboriginal fire stick farming, that in some way it is good for the country. This is a totally false premise. Burning, especially repetitive burning does enormous damage to our soils, our landscape and our wildlife. Despite popular belief country struggles to come back from major fire events and can quite literally take decades to return to its former productivity. That is why it must become the watchword, the all pervading philosophy of all involved agencies to stop, to prevent fires at all costs!
Can you imagine taking your car and pranging it into a wall in an effort to prevent the greater damage caused by a head-on prang or pushing the front row of glasses off the shelf before they could fall by themselves? Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Yet we take that same idiotic approach to fire risk management. We know there is a good possibility of fire in the season ahead so we start the fire before they can start themselves, supposedly cold, fuel [not feed] reducing fires.
Looking back at past seasons, what has been the result of this practice? We’ve burnt the grass in case it burnt, supposedly a cold burn that did less damage but was that really the case? What have we actually saved? The grass is gone, any unsound tree goes, fire hot or cold, we’ve ended up with no pasture, less trees, much less wildlife and returned our pastoralists to drought conditions unless there is a rainfall event, so what exactly did we save???
These burn offs and allowing the fires to run, which is common practice, these deliberately lit, so called cold fires have been the birthplace of nearly every large destructive fire in recent times, especially those originating in national parks. Because of the ingrained attitude of, “it’s better to let it burn now, in case it burns latter”, vast swathes of the countryside have been allowed to burn.
Nowhere is this practice more evident than just to the west of Alice. The once pastoral lease of Simpsons Gap now under the management of Territory Parks who in their bumbling efforts to manage very successful pasture growth saddled by patronising paternal beliefs about firestick farming have set out to cold burn the park on every occasion there has been a bit of dry grass in sight. On nearly every occasion they have lost control of their burn and instead of burning small parcels have burned nearly the entire park and its surrounds, creating an ecological disaster, wiping out colonies of rare wildlife, threatening their own and the town’s infrastructure.
So what did they achieve with the burn? What did they prevent?
I hope those reading this will gain some understanding of the fundamental stupidity of our present approach to fire management and take a long hard look at how we go about it. Yes fire has to be used to prevent and contain fire but the emphasis must be on the word prevent!! It is simply not OK to burn!!
Fire management must concentrate its energies on the establishment of graded fire breaks at considerable greater frequency. Emphasis must be put on fire intelligence and rapid response with an all out goal of extinguishment of any fire event as rapidly as possible. Much greater emphasis particularly in national parks needs to be given to grazing – eat the dam stuff, it’s food! The grazing of cattle and national parks are not mutually exclusive nor is the survival of wildlife, understand that country, industry, people and wildlife are immensely damaged by fire, minimise its presence on our landscape! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to burn the house – can’t live with the risk of it catching fire any longer.

ED – The Alice Springs News Online will offer right of reply to Parks and Wildlife about the burns at Simpsons Gap.

ED – A spokesperson for Parks and Wildlife provided the following response:

The Parks and Wildlife Service has demonstrated sound management practices undertaking prescribed burns on park estate with Traditional Owners for over 30 years. It has been proven through numerous reviews and studies (including the recent Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission’s response) that country will eventually burn and burn more extensively and hotter if just left until the occurrence of lightning strike fires or “accidental” ignition, especially in extensive fuel load situations that prevail following extended periods of above average rainfall, whether grazed or un-grazed.

Steve Brown Also Commented

Fire in the desert: a formidable threat and a tool
Don’t you just love that little comment from our wonderfully competent friends in Territory Parks! So if an Aboriginal person stands alongside you when you drop the match to light a fire does it burn differently than if you do it yourself? Would you agree that an attitude of accepting that it does could be regarded as patronizing paternalism or in fact just plain racism used to justify an unjustifiable position?
So to prevent the possible event of some supposed impossibly hot fire you are prepared to burn again and again and again which in a period of twenty years may mean you’ve burnt dozens of times to prevent a possible fire that may never have occurred naturally in that time?
Just this week you been hooraying the wonderful find of our local possum species the same ones that your cold burn policy wiped from existence on Simpsons Gap some years ago probably explains your relief at the new find. Nice to know that a cold burn wasn’t responsible for the extermination of the last of the species, then again got any cold burns coming up soon at Ormiston?
The fact is your policy of cold burning has been an environmental disaster of which your department should be utterly ashamed! Time to take a fresh approach. Use fire to prevent fire around vital infrastructure. Forget the Victorian bush fires. Concentrate on your own region where the management issues are completely different. You are not burning off to prevent fire damage to nearby infrastructure as in Victoria. You are burning off because some academic heard somewhere that that is what traditional owners used to do. It is simply not true!
If they had they would have starved to death in half a generation! Stop the blatant vandalism of our parks by blow-in racist academics.

Recent Comments by Steve Brown

Jacinta Price: talking about Aboriginal people but not for them?
Jacinta is an elected representative by a huge majority, in a small population that is at least 30% Aboriginal.
So unless you think all Aboriginal people look like each other and all vote one way it is safe to assume a good percentage of her vote comes from Aboriginal people. My own experience as a person in contact with many people across the community is that Jacinta certainly does enjoy the support of many locals of all political persuasions and racial backgrounds.
Jacinta speaks for many like myself who voted for her and continue to support her.
I didn’t I turn up at the rally. Yep, quite frankly I was busy and forgot it was on.
Which brings me to the much lauded Arrernte Women Group, who as a born and bred Alicespringite, I feel inclined even obligated to support yet can’t quite get my head around this fact: After all this time, all the years of mayhem after all the calls to arms from the community re the abuse of children, yes, their very own relatives, they attack Jacinta Price! One of the very few who have had the guts to cop the hate and raise the issues around neglected and abused women and children.
Right across the nation many recognise that strength, Jacinta’s compassion and the validity of her arguments, follow her online comments you will quickly become aware of the strength of her following including many many people who identify as Aboriginal.
Jacinta’s message a cry for help for the lives of thousands of children, [yet] some appear willing to sacrifice everything, even the interests of the children to have a go at her, in a vile sickening often blatantly racist attack founded on envy and a self-serving parasitic need that thrives off keeping Aboriginal people in poverty.

Cr Melky alleges budget irregularity
Mmm, as usual Cr Melky fails to grasp even the most basic of budgeting principles. It is pretty much in line with his earlier confidence in predicting a budget surplus of around $12.6m last financial year, even promising to resign if he got it wrong.
I believe the surplus came in around $1.2m, some $11.4m less than predicted. I wonder what happened to the resignation. LOL
The half million Cr Melky is worried about will not appear on the next financial year’s list of expenses so council will not need to raise funds to cover it.
This should translate into a much lower or even no increase in the rates this time round, unless of course councillors who don’t understand what they are doing force additional cost onto the community.
Try working on that, Cr Melky, perhaps you could promise to resign again, if there’s an increase … just a thought.

Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill: it’s not over yet
I’ve been reliably informed that the petition is not signed by a thousand locals but by persons from right across the globe. As such it makes a contemptuous mockery of local opinion and should be treated with the distain that it deserves.
Any petition must carry the names and the residential addresses of those who sign so that they may be verified.

Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill: the nays have it 
@ Concerned Arrernte Man: If you were indeed a concerned Arrernte “man” you would use your real name, like a man, so that we locals know what your word is worth.
What I suspect is that you aren’t local at all. We are trying to put our town together not rip it apart, your intention is clearly the opposite.
Anzac Hill was sincerely and solemnly dedicated by TOs many years ago to the purpose which it serves respectfully to this day.
It was and remains a joint community effort, if indeed you are a Arrernte man you would do well to respect and to learn from the decisions of your elders.

‘Dangerous, alarming’ property tax strongly opposed by council
Yeh Evelyn I used those words so as not to go into a long winded conversation about the technicalities of Drilling for Gas as it has nothing to do with the conversation at hand… However I am extremely well aware of the dangers or otherwise of Drilling. I have drilled water bores myself and I have family in the exploration business who own their own Rigs. Horizontal Drilling has been in use for a long time it has been developed simply to save costs because you don’t have to drill as many vertical penetrations through the water bearing Aquifers as such it is actually a much safer less expensive method of extraction. Further to this my comment around safety of some forms of Fracking refers to Coal Seam Gas which I substantially oppose.

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