Getting on track with bushfire preparation

As dry conditions continue across the state, the Soil Conservation Service is urging farmers and landowners to ensure their access tracks and fire trails are well maintained ahead of this year’s bushfire season.

Tim Ferraro, General Manager of the Soil Conservation Service, said that while access tracks can have a number of uses, including recreation and access to utility structures, they also provide firefighters with access to landscapes to undertake fire prevention and suppression activities.

“With the majority of the state still in drought, we have been told that now is the time to prepare for the danger of bushfires,” Mr Ferraro said.

“The Soil Conservation Service can help landholders maintain their existing access tracks, including vegetation control, as well as the design and construction of new tracks.”

The intended use of the track, the types of vehicles that will be using it and expected traffic volumes can determine the best surface to apply, drainage features and any specialised structures such as creek crossings and culverts.

From a bushfire perspective, track surfaces should be trafficable and any vegetation, particularly overhanging, should be cleared. Vegetation management may also allow the track to be used as an effective break for back burning activities.

Mr Ferraro said that access tracks should always have a safe end point.

“A vehicle must be able to exit to a clearing or another track or trail and if this is not possible a turning bay should be established at the end of track,” Mr Ferraro explained. “This minimises the risk of vehicles becoming trapped on a trail with an active fire.”

Drainage is the most common issue with access track maintenance. As surfaces are hard and compact, even a small amount of rainfall creates runoff that builds, eventually stripping and eroding the track surface material. This erosion will form ruts that, without treatment, can quickly render a track unsafe and impassable.

Mr Ferraro explained that track drainage is best maintained by profiling the track surface and installing slope breaks to direct water off the track. Rollover banks are also constructed to turn water off the track surface and return it safely into the surrounding landscape.

With more than 80 years in the conservation earthmoving business, the Soil Conservation Service is a recognised leader in the planning, construction and maintenance of access tracks and fire trails.

Media contact: Elisha Whitburn 0455 894 795