Covid-19 Traffic Lights – Code Red
With the change in Covid traffic light colour levels, I thought there may be some folk wondering whether their volunteer activity might be impacted. Thankfully with the region’s high vaccination status there is essentially no change for those groups with vaccine passes required – outdoor community gatherings are allowed with group sizes of up to 100 people, based on 1m social distancing and vulnerable people staying at home. For groups where unvaccinated people are attending the group size is limited to 25 people.
So unless anyone is planning something significant in attendance numbers, please continue as per normal.
During the summer of 2021 we were fortunate to escape the necessity of reserve closures due to high fire risk; this year it’s looking less likely we’ll be so lucky! The long range forecast suggests we are in for a continued long dry summer, that could stretch through into the autumn.
NCC has developed a new system for determining when reserves need to close, including a new restricted closure phase when access is permitted only outside of the hours of 1pm – 9pm. These afternoon-only closures reflect the low humidity of this timeframe and the subsequent increased fire-start conditions.
All reserves have been assessed on an individual basis, taking into consideration factors including but not limited to flammability of vegetation, slope, aspect, evacuation points, and history of fire activity. As a result of this rigorous assessment, some reserves are now classified as higher risk than they were previously, and similarly, some less. Additionally, the triggers for closures/restricted access are more complex, and include the traditional Build Up Index rating (the total amount of fuel available for combustion), as well as the dryness % of grass fuel (Grass Curing) and how rapidly a fire would spread should an ignition occur (Initial Spread Index). Rather than the previous closure points of BUI 60/80/100/120, we now assess these based on forecasted trends, which will result in advanced messaging of future closures, and less likelihood of moving between open and closed throughout the season. You can expect if a reserve is closed, it will remain so until significant rain occurs, and depending on the continued dryness of fuel loading, potentially for some time afterwards.
There are 20 reserves that may have restricted access or full closure applied across the fire season:
- Grampians Reserve
- Marsden Valley Reserve
- Atmore Reserve
- Tantragee Reserve (Codgers)
- Pipers Reserve
- Te Manu Reserve
- Stoke Tanks Reserve
- Hanby Reserve
- Fountain Reserve
- Sir Stanley Whitehead Park (includes Walters Bluff)
- Maitai River Esplanade (upstream of Sunday Hole)
- Brook Stream Esplanade
- Bolwell Reserve
- York Valley Landfill
- Murphy North Reserve
- Botanical Hill
- Brook Conservation Reserve
- Roding Water Reserve
- Maitai Water Reserve
- Venner Reserve
If you carry out volunteer work outside of these areas there shouldn’t be any restrictions to access across the season (unless heaven forbid there is a fire).
Any changes to reserve access will be posted to the Shape Nelson page each Friday, with actions to come into effect on the following Monday; once live, this will be your go-to place for regular updates on whether your area/s of interest is affected.