Flooded out

By Zoe McMaugh

Local residents are being left out in the cold, and severed from their own properties, as a result of environmental watering.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service confirmed on Wednesday that four areas of the park are still closed in the former Millewa State Forest area.

Deniliquin’s Kevin Campbell said it means, once again, that he is unable to access his own farmland on the eastern side of Edward River on the edge of the Millewa forest.

While not an active cropping or livestock enterprise or the family’s primary residence any longer, Mr Campbell said the environmental flooding program does significantly impact on the property.

‘‘We would always get cut off when there was a decent flood, but now it’s two or three times a year because of the environmental watering,’’ Mr Campbell said.

‘‘We have no access to our farm machinery, and we can’t get out to the property to camp or for maintenance.

‘‘We have 80 acres out there where we source our own firewood, and it’s flooded too.

‘‘All the watering is also washing out the bridges. There’s one timber bridge left but it’s almost past it now. Every time it floods you lose some more planks.

‘‘We definitely can’t access the farm as much as we used to.’’

The Campbells have had the property for more than 30 years, and once permanently lived at the farm.

Mr Campbell said if it was their permanent residence today, they would be isolated or rendered homeless for a few months each year because of the watering.

‘‘When it floods the only access to the property is a swing walking bridge.

‘‘Every watering means it is at least a month or more before it is safe to drive in to the property.

‘‘This year, I’d say it would be inaccessible for at least half of the year.’’

As a resident with an active firewood licence, Rod Palmer said he was contacted by National Parks to say that due to watering, his access for collection would be limited.

When he enquired after the letter, he was told that only parts of Millewa were affected, and he could travel further to the Moira section of the park for wood.

But Mr Palmer said that’s not always a viable option, and questioned the timing of watering at a time when the forest is most used.

‘‘Why, for what might be the fourth year in a row, are they watering in the middle of winter? I have been told it’s for the native fish,’’ he said.

‘‘And meanwhile, farmers barely have enough water to flush the toilet.

‘‘I should have enough wood to get me through, but I’m sure there will be a lot of pensioners who haven’t.

‘‘The people who designed this Basin Plan, which I don’t think is much of a plan at all, should be in jail. Look how many livelihoods they have ruined.’’

The latest update from NPWS states that parts of Edward River, Quambies, Dudleys and Tin Hut roads in Murray Valley National Park are closed to all vehicles due to flooding. The closed section is downstream of Farm Road and upstream of Dudleys Road.

‘‘Some parts of the Tin Hut Firewood Collection Area are affected. The remaining areas of the Tin Hut Firewood Collection Area and the entirety of the Dora Creek Firewood Collection Area remain available for firewood collection,’’ a NPWS spokesperson said yesterday.

‘‘Firewood collection licences are also available from the NSW Forestry Corporation for collection zones in the Koondrook and Perricoota state forests.

‘‘The forest is watered once a year over a number of months and the amount of environmental water delivered may be influenced by the amount of rainfall received in the catchments.’’