Mulching to begin in Dargo

THE South East CFA Vegetation Management team will begin mulching works this Monday to help reduce fuel loads in the Dargo township.

The CFA gained funding through the Safer Together initiative to hire a specialised spider excavator to mulch vegetation across about 5.35 hectares.

The four days of planned works on Lind Avenue came about after concern from property owners, who felt they were unable to manage accumulated fuel loads on their properties on the north-western side of the town.

They were worried about their assets, particularly from bushfires, given the steep hill landscape that surrounds the private homes.

Vegetation management support officer, Steph Montague, who is coordinating the project, said the community had concerns with the risk the fuel loads were causing.

“The La Nina conditions over the last couple of years have seen a lot of growth, so the majority of the properties on the hill there are quite overrun with weeds,” she said.

“Because it’s such steep terrain in that little pocket of Dargo, planned burning wasn’t a suitable option for that site, just given the type and density of vegetation and the fuel moisture, together with the steepness and proximity to private assets.

“On that north-western side of town, that is where a lot of bushfires will come from, like those that have threatened Dargo in the past.”

With the 2019 summer fires coming within two kilometres of the township, the proximity of vegetation to private properties could likely lead to direct flame contact, radiant heat and ember attacks.

“We endured significant complexities in finding an appropriate machine to undertake these works, given the steep slope and diameter of vegetation present,” Ms Montague said.

“The only suitable machine is a spider excavator, and there are only three available in Victoria. Having successfully used them in the past throughout the Safer Together program, we were confident it would be effective.

“They work really well in that steep topography as they have legs that can adjust to the height required and can crawl up really steep hills to undertake that mulching.”

An area of vegetation set to be mulched in Dargo. Photo: Contributed