Victorian alpine grazing debate reignites

VICTORIA’S environment minister will visit the high country as cattlemen continue lobbying the government over alpine grazing.

The State Government last month shelved a three-year trial which looked at the role of cattle grazing in preventing fire risk at the Alpine National Park.

Environment Minister Lisa Neville at the time said “science is clear” that grazing damages the environment and does not reduce fuel loads or bushfire risk.

Mountain Cattlemen Association of Victoria, which is strongly opposed to ending the trial, raised the issue during their annual get-together at Mitta Mitta on the weekend.

MCAV president Charlie Lovick says fuel loads in areas have built to unprecedented levels, with “feral” flora and fauna taking over.

“There has been far more destruction and deterioration in the last 25 years, since the Alpine Park was declared, than occurred over the entire century-and-a-half of alpine grazing and logging,” Mr Lovick said.

Mr Lovick says he hopes to work with the new government, and wants to show Ms Neville the land “through our eyes”.

“High country management needs a new direction so perhaps that direction may start with a meaningful visit by the minister,” he said.

Ms Neville, who pledged to remove the cattle before the November election, has already committed to visiting the region with the MCAV.

A spokeswoman in her office says a date will be set soon.

The former coalition government reintroduced cattle to Wonnangatta Valley in March 2014.

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