Nelson City Council to close further reserves due to increased fire risk

07/02/2020 4:10am
The view from Titoki Reserve
The view from Titoki Reserve

Following a continued spell of hot and dry weather Nelson City Council, in collaboration with Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), Department of Conservation, forestry companies and Tasman District Council, will be closing access to the following reserves, from Monday 10 February, until further notice:

  • Eureka Park
  • Titoki Reserve
  • Atmore Reserve
  • Venner Reserve
  • Bolwell Reserve
  • Pipers Reserve
  • Tantragee Reserve, including the Brook Mountain Bike Area/Codgers Trails
  • Days Track
While the tracks and reserves remain open this weekend, visitors are strongly advised to stay in the lower areas for ease of evacuation in the case of a fire. Avoiding the reserves during high fire risk times such as mid-afternoon when conditions are warmest is also recommended.

The following reserves are already closed to the public and will remain so until further notice:

  • Grampians Reserve
  • Sir Stanley Whitehead Reserve
  • Marsden Valley Reserve
  • Maitai Water Reserve
  • Brook Conservation Reserve
  • Roding Water Reserve

Council made the decision to close reserves after taking advice from FENZ and monitoring the Build Up Index (BUI), which is an indicator of the difficulty in suppressing a fire that has started. Council is notifying the public of these intended reserve closures as the BUI is now over 100 and is expected to climb with little to no rain forecasted over the next two weeks.               

Signage will be in place at all the closed areas, and the public is asked to please stay out of these areas for your own safety.

These closures will affect access to the Coppermine Trail and the Maungatapu Track.

The key risk is around the safety of people being caught in the reserves should a fire break out. With the dry conditions, prevailing winds, slope and nature of the vegetation, a fire would spread uphill extremely quickly, making evacuation difficult.

Which tracks and reserves will remain open from Monday 10 February?

  • Botanical Hill, including the Centre of NZ tracks from the Botanics Sportsfield and Branford Park
  • Tahunanui Beach Foreshore Reserve All urban neighbourhood parks and playgrounds
  • All urban public gardens
  • All esplanade reserves, including Maitai River Esplanade and Maitai swimming holes

Nelson City Council will assess the situation weekly. Further decisions on closures or reopenings will be made in consultation with FENZ.

Fire risk and reserve closures – Q and A

How was the decision made to close reserves? 

FENZ has weekly meetings with stakeholders, including Nelson City Council, DOC, Tasman District Council and forestry to discuss risks and a coordinated response for any reserve closures. Decisions are guided by the Build Up Index (BUI), which is an indicator of the difficulty in suppressing a fire that has started.

What are the thresholds for closing reserves?

Once the BUI reaches 60, Council installs signage warning of increasing fire risk.
At BUI 80, FENZ will advise on which reserves should close.
At BUI 100 all high risk reserves will be closed. 

Why are some reserves shut and some open?

Closures will depend on the risk profile of each reserve, which varies according to weather conditions, vegetation type, topography, and the availability of evacuation routes. For instance, the risk profile in a pine forest is higher than it is for a reserve largely populated by less flammable native trees. Users should still take care in open reserves, please limit your visits to the early morning and evenings and stay in the lower areas for ease of evacuation.

When will reserves be reopened?
Reserves are reopened when FENZ advises that risk factors have sufficiently decreased. Decisions are assessed on a weekly basis. This information is up to date as of 7 February.