Opinions split over fairy grass solutions

THE Country Fire Authority has encouraged Wimmera land owners to manage fairy grass on their properties.

CFA District 17 operation officer Trevor Ebbels said the authority was aware there was a large amount of fairy grass across the region.

"There has been a lot of discussion at committee levels about how to deal with this on public land and there are a number of solutions being put on the table," he said.

"One of those is pre-summer burning, but it is not economical or environmentally sound to burn everything."

Mr Ebbels said the grass ignited quickly and burned at a rapid pace.

"Fairy grass is a seasonal thing and the wet summer we had last year promoted growth," he said. "In strong wind the grass accumulates against fences and land owners need to try to clear it away to reduce the fire risk, but because they cannot burn it there is a bit of an issue.

"From a CFA perspective we are aware of the problem. We are relying on individuals and land owners to manage the risks on their properties."

Department of Sustainability and Environment south-west environment and water officer Geoff Miller said fairy grass invaded bare soil but was gradually replaced by other taller and longer-living species.

"Fairy grass often occurs on areas that have been subject to inundation, such as drying lakes or swamps across all land ownership," he said.

"Extreme infestations might be reduced in the short term by slashing and planned burns, but only when seasonally appropriate.

"The risk of such intervention is the loss of those species that are beginning to out-compete fairy grass naturally."

Mr Miller said the department's preferred method of control was to let natural competition reduce fairy grass colonies.

He said the department was not currently co-ordinating any fairy grass management programs.

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