Werakata fire trails upgraded to protect Cessnock

Around 60k m of Werakata fire trails have been upgraded to help protect the Cessnock community from bushfire.

Aerial view of a vehicle on the Kitchener East Trail, Werakata National Park

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Director Hunter Central Coast Kylie Yeend said NPWS led the $7 million upgrades in partnership with Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council, Wonnarua Elders, the Rural Fire Service (RFS), Crown Lands, private landholders and Cessnock City Council.

'Critical upgrades of 18 fire trails have improved track surfaces and drainage of water off tracks, as well as adding new turning and passing bays,' Ms Yeend said.

'Thanks to these vital upgrades, fire trails that were previously virtually impassable can now be used to suppress bushfire and undertake hazard reduction burns.

'The trails run through the Werakatas which cover more than 6,000 hectares of Cessnock bushland, including Werakata National Park, Werakata State Conservation Area, Crown reserves and adjoining private and public lands.'

The $7 million project was prioritised by the Lower Hunter Bush Fire Management Committee and funded through the NSW Government’s Fire Access and Fire Trail network program.

NSW RFS District Manager for Lower Hunter Marty Siemsen said the significant upgrades would help protect life and property during bushfire and wildfire events.

'The RFS and NPWS work closely together to fight fires in reserves, national parks and bushland across the Hunter region and all across the state,' Mr Siemsen said.

'The need to have fire trails that provide easy access for our vehicles and firefighters cannot be overstated. Being able to swiftly access key bushland areas can mean the difference between containing a blaze, or having it burn out of control.

'The upgrades are part of coordinated efforts across New South Wales to develop a network of high-quality fire trails, as recommended by the NSW Bushfire Inquiry.

'Much of this bushland is close to urban areas, and these trails are vital in a bushfire for when fast access is needed to protect lives and homes in the path of danger.'

NPWS manages the most extensive fire trail network in the state, with around 40,000 km of roads and trails.