Recovery teams move in to assess bushfire damage
RAIN has allowed recovery teams to move in and assess the impact of fires on our National Parks.
The bushfire crisis has impacted 17 National Parks and Wildlife Service parks and reserves in the Coffs Harbour Coastal area.
Long-awaited rain fell on fire grounds including the Liberation Trail Fire, Anderson Fire and the Carrai East Fire with these fires now officially 'out'.
"The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) welcomed recent rainfall around Coffs Harbour, with up to 100mm falling in some areas," a NPWS spokesperson said.
"Weary fire fighters, including NPWS staff can now return home and start the significant task of cleaning up."
Rain has already worked its magic at some popular parks and reserves including Muttonbird Island.
"On Muttonbird Island rain has helped vegetation to grow and stabilise burrows where migratory shearwaters are nesting."
Around the region, recovery teams are now assessing the scale of damage to national parks, including impacts on wildlife; on assets like roads, camping areas and bridges; and heritage sites including Aboriginal cultural sites.
"NPWS staff have started clearing roads, installing erosion and sediment control, looking out for injured wildlife and planning to replace damaged facilities."
On the Coffs Coast there are two main priorities for NPWS recovery efforts: determining what can be done to help threatened plants and animals recover; and opening popular visitor destinations like Platypus Flat Camping Area.
"Platypus Flat camping area was damaged in the fires and will need the toilet block, information shelter and retaining walls to be replaced before visitors are safely able to return to the popular camping area."
One of the first challenges is opening roads by clearing away fallen trees and assessing roadside trees to make sure access to facilities is safe.
In some regions there's been concerns about the sediment run off caused from heavy rain falling after bushfires and a prolonged dry spell.
This can lead to poor water quality and increased risk of fishkills with nutrients, ash and charcoal entering waterways.
The Advocate contacted the NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries to see if there had been similar impacts on a local level.
"The department has not received reports of unusually high sediment loads, stressed or dead fish in Solitary Island Marine Park following the recent rainfall," a department spokesperson said.
"Heavy rainfall is a natural and regular event in the Solitary Island Marine Park catchments. Our estuaries rely on periodic freshwater flows to keep them healthy."
Fisheries staff will continue to monitor local estuaries in the coming days.