THE Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is working hard to access national parks and State forests to assess the damage from Tropical Cyclone Debbie and restore public access to camping areas and visitor sites.
National Parks Minister Steven Miles said parks and State forests in the Mackay and Whitsunday areas and the Gold Coast hinterland had been heavily impacted, with lesser impacts in other areas along the cyclone’s path.
“Many of our parks and forests in far north and inland Queensland were not affected by the cyclone and are available for Easter campers,” Mr Miles said.
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“In the cyclone-hit areas, QPWS has deployed teams to start assessment and recovery.
I want to thank our rangers who are undertaking very difficult work right now as they deal with dozens of major landslips and hundreds of treefalls.
“Park closures will be kept in place where necessary so staff can work to clear debris, repair infrastructure, remove hazards and make these areas safe once again for the public to enjoy.”
Minister Miles said the recovery focus would be on key tourism sites.
“It will take some weeks for the full impacts of TC Debbie across a huge swathe of Queensland to be identified. In some instances it will take months for safe access to be re-established,” he said.
“Island sites have suffered vegetation damage. Elsewhere, some roads and tracks are likely to be washed away in sections or temporarily blocked by flooding, landslips and fallen trees.
“Camping areas, facilities and other infrastructure may also be damaged.
“QPWS is pulling in vessels and staff from other parts of the state to help get the impacted communities back on their feet and reopen these parks and forests that are so important to the local economy.
“With Easter just around the corner, we want to ensure the tourism industry can start operating on these areas as soon as possible.
“QPWS will work towards opening some of the damaged camping areas for Easter, however, this will depend on the amount of damage each has sustained.
“In the Whitsundays, a contractor is inspecting the public mooring facilities for cyclone damage. The area has about 90 moorings that were installed to minimise anchor damage to coral.
“We do know the world-famous Whitehaven Beach won’t look its pristine self for some time—the beach has been eroded and the fringing forestation badly damaged.
“Safety is our top priority, so please follow the directions of park rangers, observe signage, take note of our park alerts, and stay safe.”
To keep up to date with park access and closures, visit Park Alerts at www.npsr.qld.gov.au/park-alerts.
Campers who have booked sites that are closed due to the cyclone can apply for a refund or gift card via the online booking system at www.qld.gov.au/camping, or by calling 13 7468 (13 QGOV) to organise a refund.
Vessel operators seeking to use public moorings should visually inspect the mooring lines before securing their vessel, and remain vigilant to the possibility of a failure while structural engineering checks are underway.
To report missing or damaged public moorings, call QPWS (07) 4047 9616 or email email@example.com