Bushland a school threat

Bushland a school threat

The Metung Bushland Reserve in Stirling Road has been described as a fire danger and potential threat to the local school community.

The Lakes Post has been told that overtures have been made to the responsible management authority to have it cleaned up but so far nothing has been done.

“It’s the biggest fire danger in Metung, but there’s been a reluctance by those who manage it to clear the undergrowth,” a concerned local resident said.

The reserve encompasses just under four hectares of bushland.

Signage indicates the reserve contains an important example of Limestone Box Forest.

East Gippsland Water houses a large water tank and pipeline there, yet Parks Victoria has overall responsibility for the reserve.

Metung Primary School Council president, Michael Murphy, told the Post, the bush reserve posed “a potential fire hazard for the school as it’s close to the main buildings”.

In the wake of the summer bushfires, which at one stage threatened Metung and led to a mass evacuation, Mr Murphy doesn’t believe the school’s request for a cleanup of the reserve is impudent.

“We’re not asking for much, we just want a firebreak between the school and the reserve boundary,” Mr Murphy said.

He said tree branches and trees themselves were prone to falling down along the boundary enhancing the fire risk.

In warmer months, long grass in the reserve becomes an issue with snakes a threat to students’ safety.

“Snakes have been sighted in there and a local resident was bitten by a snake in the reserve,” Mr Murphy said.

“During term one and term four, going behind the building is a no gone zone because of the danger,” he said.

“Our oval also borders the reserve,” Mr Murphy said.

A member of the CFA conceded the small reserve “is a bit of a fire hazard”.

However, he said he was unaware that the school had raised concerns about it.

“There would be an issue with trees being cut down,” he said in reference to creating a firebreak between the school and reserve, indicating that local residents would likely be opposed.

Parks Victoria was approached for comment, but hadn’t responded at the time of going to press.

A Parks employee confirmed to the Post that there had been a request for separation between the school and the reserve.

The acting school principal, Clare Edwards, declined to comment.

IMAGE: The Metung Bushland Reserve adjoins the local primary school and concerns have been raised it represents a fire threat. K360-6633