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Scottsdale under fire

Heather Campbell (CEO)
Published 03 Feb 2020 by Heather Campbell (CEO)

As we know from this unrelenting bushfire season, a lot can change in the space of a weekend. When I wrote to you on Friday with an update, we were hopeful that our Scottsdale Reserve, located between Canberra and Cooma, would remain unscathed.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the NSW Rural Fire Service and our on-ground staff (themselves with personal property under threat), a large proportion of Scottsdale has been, and continues to be, impacted by bushfire.

As you can imagine, it’s been a tense and challenging time.

We know this is hard news to hear. Scottsdale is our People's Reserve, with thousands of visitors and volunteers putting their blood, sweat and tears into bringing it back to health.

The main woolshed, such a vital piece of Scottsdale history and infrastructure, is still standing – so that’s a huge win. The nursery is also currently safe.

Our initial estimation is that 60% of the reserve is burnt, and still burning, but it appears patchy, which is ultimately a positive thing. Some of the revegetated areas and grassland sites appear to have held up; others are not in good shape.

Yesterday we were able to get a more detailed update from our team on the ground on how Saturday unfolded and the aftermath.

The fires have moved across the reserve with a number of spot fires occurring. At this point it is not clear how intense the fire has been in some areas. Some restoration areas on the valley floor remain unburnt. We do not know yet, how much of the tree canopy up in the forested high country has been burnt.

These forests have an understorey of either heathy or grassy species, which are well-adapted to fire. These areas have not been burnt for well over 15 years so the plant species may fully recover. The vegetation along some sections of the Murrumbidgee may be unburnt and would have provided an important refuge for many animals escaping the fire front and it will be an important area in the post-fire period.

Across the course of these past few days, the fire moved quickly and ultimately has impacted a number of areas on the property.

Fires remain burning on parts of the reserve and our response team are undertaking fire suppression activities.

As for the next day or so, there are still active fires across the region with erratic weather predicted today but looking to cool down by Tuesday.

The RFS, our staff and the broader community teams at Bredbo and Michelago have, and continue to, work tirelessly on fighting and containment. We are so grateful for their heroic efforts in saving lives, homes and wildlife.

Thank you everyone who has expressed concern and sent their good wishes. We will do our best to keep you as informed as possible; but knowing we have your support gives us much strength and resolve in these challenging times.

Fire suppression activity on Scottsdale Reserve. Fire suppression activity on Scottsdale Reserve.
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