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NEWS

Sibelco rescues rescuers he North Stradbroke Island Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR), provider of vital emergency services to the community, has secured a three-year, $50,000 a year, sponsorship from the new Straddie Sand Mining Community Fund, established by Sibelco. The VMR is the first community organisation to benefit from the fund. Richard Dunn, president of VMR North Stradbroke Island, said the $150,000 funding would put the marine rescue operation “… in a very safe and comfortable position for the years ahead. “We might be a small VMR but we are crucial, strategically, for water safety across the whole region,” Mr Dunn said.

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“We will use the funding to re-paint our base, purchase new motors for our boats and costly fuel for water-based training exercises.” Paul Smith of Sibelco said: “It is fitting that one of the first projects the Straddie Sand Mining Community Fund is getting behind is our hardworking VMR team. “This funding will help to ensure our brave volunteers go to sea well-equipped and trained to do the life-saving work they perform for our community.” Sibelco says the Straddie Sand Mining Community Fund will be managed by an advisory board of locals and “… focused on projects that deliver long-term sustainability to the community.”

Sibelco’s Paul Smith (r) with Volunteer Marine Rescue president Richard Dunn

Feelings hot about backburn koala, badly burnt during a burn off at Amity, is recovering at Australia Zoo – but relations between wildlife rescue volunteers and the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) are still in need of repair. The eight-year-old koala was found suffering second-degree burns more than three weeks after a DERM back burning operation at Amity. Jack Jackson of Stradbroke Wildlife Rescue told SIN the burn off, which had been scheduled for winter, was delayed because conditions were not conducive. He believes the decision to go ahead with the burn, late in the season and in windy conditions, meant the fire was “too intense”. “The timing was atrocious,” Jack told SIN. “The volunteer fire fighters were shocked at the intensity of the fire … it was still burning four days later.” The Amity fuel reduction burn began on September 13 and covered a 45-hectare area from Beehive Road to Kindarra Street. DERM’s acting regional services director (south east), Ian Gordon, told SIN a Hazard Reduction Notification Advice was placed at the local post office, and other notices placed

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around the town, prior to the burn. However, wildlife rescuer Carolyn Hahn says the notices had been posted for months and that contact should have been made directly with the Island wildlife rescue service just prior to the burn off. “Nobody called us and nobody’s talked to us,” she told SIN. “They never even rang us and told us. They had put out a bulletin saying they were going to burn between August and October and then they just came and did it. “They should’ve asked us to go around with them and spot the koalas and what have you. We know where all their locations are and the trees that they hang out in; but they just went ahead and burnt.” Mr Gordon told SIN a Redland City Council (RCC) representative was on hand with contact details for a wildlife carer if one was needed. He said no injured animals were found at the time, although one koala was relocated. “Prior to a burn, officers undertake a thorough search of the area. If a koala is observed, the koala is either moved to a safe area, or their position is flagged and the burn area is redirected.”

Mr Gordon said members of the North Stradbroke Fire Committee, which includes Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS), Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Traditional Owners, RCC, Sibelco and State Land Management, met in January to decide hazard reduction burns for the year. “The Amity Township hazard reduction burns have been on the list of burns since last year. They were not undertaken the previous year due to heavy rain fall throughout the year,” Mr Gordon said. Earlier this year, former Point Lookout QFRS captain Terry Green told SIN he was concerned about DERM’s back burning procedures. “I think it’s a management problem because they “have” to do this burn and they do it whether it’s windy or not. Whereas with us, if it’s windy we wouldn’t touch it,” Mr Green said. Island wildlife rescuers have confirmed that the fire did not kill two other koalas, found since the burn. One had been hit by a car and thrown into the ashes, while another was found dead at at Tip Hill. — Maria Tan

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Feelings hot about backburn  

An eight-year-old koala was found suffering second-degree burns more than three weeks after a DERM back burning operation at Amity.

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