Fireweed control not a top priority for council

Now is the flowering time for noxious fireweed and areas of heavy infestation are visible along the side of the road and in paddocks along the Princes Highway.

Fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) spreads easily and is toxic to grazing animals and humans and Bodalla's Kate Moran is concerned that nothing is being done to stop the spread.

Ms Moran said that she had observed large patches of the noxious weed while she was driving along the Princes Highway.

"I decided to ring Eurobodalla Council to see if I could report it, but I was told that fireweed wasn't a council problem, it was the responsibility of the RMS," she said.

"So I rang the RMS and they said they would put me on to someone that could help, but they just gave me the runaround and finally ended up disconnecting me. I was on the phone for more than an hour," she said.

A spokesperson from Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) said maintenance of vegetation adjacent to regional highways is an important part of delivering a safer road network and Transport for NSW engages local crews to carry out this work surrounding the Princes Highway corridor.

"Tasks may include mowing a two metre strip either side of the road, monitoring and removing trees and limbs to ensure they will not impact the safety of road users, and spraying grass and weeds in the safety barriers to maintain visibility for road users.

"The management of noxious weeds that do not impact the safety of road users is the responsibility of the relevant Local Government Area"

"A spokesperson for Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) said fireweed was no longer a declared plant under the the Biosecurity Act 2015, and in the context of running a profitable farming enterprise, landholders needed to manage all weedy paddock plants in a way that prioritises grass and clover production and as such, enhances their agricultural production."

Fireweed is a short lived plant in the daisy family. Like most plants in this family, fireweed can produce thousands of seeds per adult plant in its lifetime, and the time between germination and seed production can be as fast as one week, making eradication largely impossible.

"This places the plant in the 'widespread and established' weed category along with other problematic plants including Verbena, Paddy's Lucerne, Cud weeds, black thistle and rats tail grasses," the BVSC spokesperson said.

Fireweed seedlings usually start appearing in late autumn, and start dying around late spring, taking advantage of the cooler weather, and the lack of competition from (usually) a dormant Kikuyu based pasture.

Bega Valley Shire Council and Eurobodalla Shire Council's do not control fireweed along our roadways.

"While fireweed certainly stands out at this time of year, African lovegrass, St John's wort, giant Parramatta grass, Coolatai grass, Chilean needle grass and serrated tussock are a far greater threat to farming in the region, and Bega council's Biosecurity Invasive Species team are working overtime to ensure they don't get established here."

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