Date: 17 February 2009
Department of Conservation (DOC) staff are seeking assistance from the public to find the person who attempted to set fire to an area of Waioeka Gorge Scenic Reserve on Sunday (15/2/09) night. Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer Trevor Mitchell said today that the Opotiki Fire Service attended three fires that had been lit in the gorge at around midnight.
“We would appreciate any reports of vehicles seen parked near the old Appleton’s-Goldsmith’s farm site just prior to midnight last Sunday. Anyone with information can phone the Opotiki DOC office at 07 315 1001 or me at 06 869 0460,” Mr Mitchell said.
The three small fires were deliberately lit in an area where Environment Bay of Plenty through its Environmental Enhancement Fund has supported a five year restoration programme. Local volunteers and school students have planted native shrubs and trees in recent years to re-vegetate an area that was used for farming last century.
“It is disappointing to have the hard work of local people who care for the district attacked in this way. Fortunately, rain in the area on Saturday night limited the spread of the fires.
“We ask people to be vigilant and phone 111 to report any smoke or flames as soon as possible,” Mr Mitchell said.