WITH the mercury set to dip to below zero next week, people have been reminded they face a $5500 fine if caught collecting firewood in the wrong place.
Following a week of above average temperatures, many Central West locations are set to get a whole lot cooler from Monday.
Anyone caught harvesting timber for firewood along the region's travelling stock reserves (TSRs) will face a fine, Central Tablelands Local Land Services warns.
"Our biosecurity officers are out and about patrolling on reserves and we're on the lookout for anyone cutting up logs, or damaging or removing native vegetation," senior biosecurity officer Kellie Arnall said.
It is an offence under the Local Land Services Act 2013 to harvest timber from TSRs.
Ms Arnall said firewood collection includes the removal of dead timber which acts as habitat for ground-dwelling species.
Travelling stock reserves act as islands of natural habitat for animals as they move across the landscape.Local Land Services senior biosecurity officer Kellie Arnall
Fallen logs also contribute to nutrient recycling and enhance ground cover which reduces soil erosion and water runoff.
Ms Arnall said TSRs were a precious community asset and a prized for their grazing, social, ecological and cultural heritage values.
TSRs can often be a last remaining refuge for native species.
"They act as islands of natural habitat for animals as they move across the landscape," Ms Arnall said.
"Removing vegetation from these areas erodes habitat connectivity and reduces the shelter available for both flora and fauna."
Central Tablelands Local Land Services manages around 370 TSRs and while most are signposted, Ms Arnall said if people are uncertain they should contact the Local Land Services office
Illegal activity can be reported to Local Land Services on 1300 795 299 or by contacting your local police station.
Information such as registration numbers, descriptions, locations and dates will assist in the issuing of fines or prosecution.
Timber can be sourced legally from State forests. Firewood permits are available online from the Forestry Corporation of NSW at: www.forestrycorporation.com.au/about/permits.