Vehicle access to Muriwai Beach will remain closed after Auckland Council was asked by Fire and Emergency New Zealand to not reopen today as planned due to the dry conditions the region is experiencing.
Chair of Auckland Council’s Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee, Councillor Alf Filipaina says the decision to keep the access closed was based on safety.
“The last thing we want to see is a fire breaking out in the regional park or the Woodhill Forest. Unfortunately, the temptation to enter the forest, light illegal campfires or carry out other activity that might spark a fire is too great for some. Keeping vehicles out of the area is one way to limit the risk of devastating forest and vegetation fires,” he said.
Manager of Auckland Council’s Regional Parks, Scott De Silva says recent fires at Woodhill and on regional parkland were a reminder of how devastating a fire could be.
“Fire and Emergency advised us that the fire risk in and around Woodhill Forest is very high and asked us to consider keeping the vehicle access closed.”
“We agree that the safety of people, the environment and livelihoods is paramount and that re-opening vehicle access to the beach at this time is not worth the risk,” he said.
“Remote locations, rough terrain, and access to water supplies make it tough for firefighters to access parkland, even with the support of our own rangers.
“This summer we’ve already responded to fires at Long Bay and Waitawa regional parks that could have been avoided.”
Council says it will be in regular contact with Fire and Emergency over the summer to ensure that vehicle access to Muriwai Beach will reopen when the fire risk is reduced.
“We have listened to the community’s concerns and ideas, and we have been working together to manage vehicle access. Rangers were out before Christmas checking people’s driving permits and there has often been someone from the four-wheel-drive community out there helping to remind people of their responsibilities when driving along the beach,” Cr Filipaina said.
“It has been a great collaboration that we are keen to continue when we can re-open access.”