Conservation and environment
news, issues and links
northern Victoria and the Southern Riverina
Projects, announcements, problems, events and issues
The news items appearing here are sourced from personal observations, attendance at meetings (e.g. Friends of Terrick Terrick National Park; Kanyapella Basin Coordinating Committee; Barmah-Millewa CRG) newspaper
articles, telephone calls, seminars, press releases, interviews, word of mouth,
radio and TV news items, browsing the Internet, etc. The webmeister
thanks those individuals or groups who have supplied information. Many outdated items have been deleted.
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."
This page contains news items relating to northern Victoria and the southern Riverina. Emphasis is given to Echuca-Moama, Cohuna, Mathoura, Deniliquin, Bendigo, Barmah-Millewa Forest, Gunbower-Perricoota Forest and surrounding areas. This page is one of several in Section One of the Northern Victoria and Southern Riverina Conservation and Environment Site. There are several other sections to this site, covering bushwalking, birding, indigenous plants, landscapes and indigenous animals.
Several agencies post conservation news on their sites. The following external conservation news sites may be of interest:
North Central Catchment Management Authority media releases page
Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority news
Murray Catchment Management Authority news
North Central Landcare Network news
Goulburn Broken Landcare news
River Red Gum news (NSW only)
Parks Victoria News
Koondrook-Perricoota Forest Enhancement Project
Victorian National Parks Association home page
Environment and Heritage NSW home page
ABC environment news
2012 News Items
Makeover for picnic area near Edward River Bridge
The picnic area alongside the Edward River bridge along Millewa (Mathoura-Tocumwal) Road has received a makeover. A toilet has been constructed, bollards have been erected, gas barbeques have been installed and new signage is in place. The area has been designated as a Day Visitor Area. A small camping area has been set aside a short distance downstream and within walking distance of the toilet. There are large containers for rubbish.
Upgraded picnic facilities alongiside the Edward River Bridge, Millewa Road (Photos: K Stockwell)
Makeover for The Reed Beds bird hide and car park
The picnic ground (day visitor area) alongside the Edward River bridge along Millewa (Mathoura) Road has received a makeover. A toilet has been constructed, bollards have been erected, gas barbeques have been erected and new signage is in place. The area has been sign-posted as a day visitor area. A small camping area has been set aside a short distance downstream. and within walking distance of the toilet. There are large containers for rubbish.
Upgraded car park, Reed Beds (K Stockwell)
The Reed Beds (K Stockwell)
Birding trip to Lake Boga area, including Goschen Reserve
21 members of BirdLife Echuca District attended an outing to the Lake Boga area on 13th October 2012. 96 bird species were observed, including Hardhead, three species of Grebe, Darter, four species of Cormorant, Pelican, Wedgetailed Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, thousands of Eurasian Coot, Black-tailed Native Hen, Black-winged and Banded Stilt, Red-capped Plover, Red-kneed Dotterel, Marsh Sandpiper, Cockatiel, Budgerigar, Blue Bonnet, Sacred Kingfisher, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Black Honeyeater, Pied Honeyeater, Singing Honeyeater, White-winged Triller, Hooded Robin ad Rufous Songlark.
Pied Honeyeater and White-browed Woodswallow at Goschen Reserve (David Ong)
White Ibis survey
The White Ibis Management Coordination Group conducted its annual Australian White Ibis survey on Sunday 28th October. Relatively few White Ibis were observed in the Echuca district.
Myrtle Rust disease threatens Eucalypts
A rust disease that kills plants in the Eucaluypt family has been detected in parts of Australia. One outbreak was found in Shepparton. Plants affected include Agonis, Bottlebrush, Backhousia, Eucalypts and Lilly Pillies.
Myrtle Rust attacks young, soft, actively-growing leaves, shoot tips and young stems as well as fruits and flower parts of various plants. The first sign of Myrtle rust infection is raised b rownish spots, often with red-purple halos.
To help combat the disease, members of the public are urged not to transport any of the above plant types around the country and to purchase plants of the myrtle family only from a reputable nursery. Citrus trees and most introduced plant species are not affected. Please report any suspected infestation by phoning 1800 084 881 during business hours.
For more information, visit http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/myrtlerust
Gunbower Creek Project
A Since the construction of the National Channel and other channels, the course of gunbower Creek has become referred to as a series of lagoons. Late in September 2012, Goulburn-Murray Water announced that it was considering piping water to irrigators and allowing the creek (i.e. the lagoons) to dry out for part of the year. Whilst this might replicate the original flooding/drying pattern of 200 years ago, some locals were concerned that the drying of the lagoons could imperil platypus, turtrles, fish and other animals and also reduce the ambience of the area. Current problems that irrigators face include poor water quality and severe water-weed infestations. The piping of water to irrigators could ease these problems. Local birders believe that the periodic drying of some of the lagoons could improve bird habitat and help reduce water-weed infestations, but agree that water should be retained in some lagoons for animals such as the platypus and, perhaps, for aesthetic reasons. Gunbower farmer Councillor Greg Toll believes that, following community consultation, Goulburn-Murray Water might decide to pipe water to some irrigators and keep some lagoons in operation.
Students help revegetate alongside Campaspe River
Echuca school students have helped tackle Bridal Creeper alongside the campaspe River in Echuca and have assisted Echuca Landcare Group with the planting of several hundred indigenous plants. VCAl students of St Joseph's College have done much to help control the pest and to plant indigenous shrubs and gtrees alongside the river. Local primary school students have been busy breeding leaf hoppers and a fungus that attacks Bridal Creeper. Echuca landcare group has removed hundreds of P:rickly Pear cactus plants from near the river. Many native grasses and small shrubs have been planted near the Eyre Street footbridge by members of Echuca Landcare Group and by some students of Echuca Secondary College.
See the Echuca Landcare Group's site for more information.
Wet weather prevented many of the outdoor tasks planned for the Friends of Terrick Terrick National Park's open weekend early in October 2012 from being carried out. Fortunately attendees were able to attend a number of presentations in the machinery shed. Speakers included John Landy, Helen Stevens (local history), Simon Starr (local raptors) and Ashley Elliot (plants of the park). Simon also led an early morning bird walk in the forest. Species observed during the walk included Wedge-tailed Eagle, Hooded Robin, Dusky Woodswallow, Australian Ringneck, Diamond Firetail, Brown Songlark, Gilberts Whistler and White-browed Babbler. October 2012.
Demise of the Plains-wanderer?
Only two Plains-wanderers have been sighted during surveys on district grasslands over the past 18 monhths. Not a single PW has been sighted in or near Terrick Terrick National Parkover the past 18 months during the bi-monthly surveys. The reason for the disappearance appears to be associated with high biomass: the grass cover is too thick and too high to meet the needs of this bird. Have the birds moved elsewhere or have they perished?
Similar depressing survey results have been recorded on the grassland plains of southern (Riverina) NSW.
* Since the above article was written in August 2012, a female Plains-wanderer was observed in Oolambeyan National Park.
Victorian Government cut-backs hit Kanyapella
As a result of staff cutbacks, the Department of Primary industries is no longer able to provide a facilitator for the Kanyapella Advisory Committee. Other departments associated with the restoration of the Kanyapella are unable to assist because they, too, have suffered staff cutbacks. Furthermore, for the first time in many years, grant applications have been unsuccesful.
Without a facilitator, committee members may no longer be able to have meetings in a departmental office. November's quarterly meeting is to be in the Kanyapella Basin itself.
Fortunately, one stakeholder representative has volunteered to take the Minutes of the November meeting.
Over the past decade or so, much has been done to improve the condition of the Kanyapella. Fences have been replaced and repaired, tracks have been graded, revegetation work has been carried out, fox baiting and fox drives have been conducted, new signage has been installed, a promotional brochure has been produced and illegal grazing hasbeen overcome. It will be a pity if the committee does not continue for the Kanyapella may once again be abused and again become degraded.
Watering down of environmental laws proposed
An alliance of environmental organisations from across the country has launched a national public campaign to protect our nation's environmental laws.
Under pressure from big business and the mining industry, governments have announced an aggressive plan to wind back our environmental laws. In the guise of cutting ‘green tape’, government and industry propose to hand important federal approval powers over to the states, and to fast track approvals for large developments. This will remove federal protection for our most special places and wildlife, and accelerate mining and other destructive development.
Without federal intervention there would be cattle grazing in Victoria's high country, a Franklin River dam, a Traviston Dam and a loss of Ramsar wetlands.
Watering down of shooting laws
Victoria's Wildlife (Game) Regulations may be watered down, e.g. there are proposals to allow under-age persons to obtain a shooting licence without having to pay a fee or to pass the identification examination, to allow the use of lead shot, and to exclude non-shooters from wetlands for an extended period.
Shooting to be allowed in NSW reserves
The NSW parliament has legislated to allow the use of firearms in 79 national parks, including the various precincts of Murray Valley National Park.
The NSW Shooters and Fishers Party advises that hunters (as young as 14 years of age) will be shooting in National Parks unsupervised and that parks will not be closed while hunting is taking place. Source: ABC News
A better way to reduce the number of feral animals might be a baiting programme, followed by warren destruction (in the case of rabbits) and a follow-up baiting programme. An organised, supervised shoot could then be carried out during a short, specific period of time, during which the reserve should be closed to the public.
There is a danger that irresponsible shooters may introduce ferals to public land where feral animals are currently absent.
Some nagturalists visit bushland areas alone and off-track, sometimes concealing themselves in a bush or hide in order to take a photograph, and may be at risk of being shot. NSW members who are concerned might wish to consider expressing any concerns to their local member of the NSW parliament. July 2012.
Gold prospecting to be allowed in Victorian national parks
The Victorian Government has flagged that it may allow gold prospecting in at least some of Victoria's national parks. Obviously this will cause some disturbance to soil in places, and impact upon micro-organisms. September 2012.
Webmeister appears before a Parliamentary Committee
Early in August, I appeared before a parliamentary enquiry in Deniliquin to argue a case against unsupervised recreational hunting in NSW national parks and reserves. It was pointed out that some bird observers sit in bushland alone, armed with a telescope or a camera, and could possibly be mistaken for a rabbit or fox and shot.
Some years ago, two Echuca students were shot in the head by someone who mistook them for rabbits. A New Zealand hiker was shot and killed whilst cleaning her teeth: the shooter thought she was a deer drinking at a pond. So we have reason to be fearful.
There are better ways to help control feral animals. Organised shoots whilst a park is closed and after a baiting program has been undertaken may be acceptable, but unsupervised recreational shooting is most undesirable. NSW members of our branch were emailed and requested to write a submission and/or appear before the enquiry.
Animals that can be hunted may include rabbits, foxes, hares and Topknot Pigeons. Some locals think that Crested Pigeons are Topknot Pigeons.
I also offered other comments on the management of national parks and reserves.
~K Stockwell, August 2012.
2011 News Items
Late in 2010 and early in 2011, the region experienced heavy rain. Some houses and farmland in the region were flooded. But it was not all bad news. Many lakes which had been dry for many years filled, ephemeral wetlands filled, colonial waterbirds nested, ailing vegetation recovered, water allocations increased, and some farmers have been able to grow rice for the first time in many years.
Mouse poisons killing birds
Northern Victoria and southern NSW is experiencing a mouse plague. The recommended chemical, Mouse-off, is in short supply and is expensive. Some farmers have fresorted to mixing poison with grain and spreading it about paddocks. Many dead birds are being observed: both seed-eating birds like Galahs and Cokcatoos, and raptors such as Falcons and Kites. It is assumed that the birds have eaten poisoned grain, taken baits or eaten poisoned mice (alive or dead). Farmers, householders and others should seek advice from DPI before spreading poisons and comply with laws. June 2011.
Friends of Terrick Terrick Open Weekend
In conjunction with Parks Victoria, Friends of Terrick Terrick National Park are holding an open weekend in the park on first weekend of October 2011. Activities include guided bird watching, a half day bushwalk in the forested section of the park, wildflower walks, Plains-wanderer search (and banding?), waste fencing wire removal, weed control work, guest speakers and more. Camping is available alongside the Davies homestead, Kow Swamp Road from 3pm on the last Friday of September. BYO food, water, tent or caravan.See the VNPA outdoor activities booklet for contact phone numbers or refer to the Terrick Terrick National Park page. June 2011.
New Conservation Management Network Planned
During May of 2011, a public meeting was held in Wyuna to discuss the possibility of forming a new Lower Goulburn Conservation Management Network of government agencies, not-for-profit groups, private landholders and interested persons to enhance the environment along the Goulburn River from Shepparton to its confluence with the Murray River. The region covered is likely to include the new Lower Goulburn National Park, Loch Garry and adjoining land, including farmland. Those present supported the concept and another meeting is to be called if and when some funding is available. May 2011
Kerang reserves to be linked
The Victorian government has purchased a grazing property which lies between a block of Koorangie Nature Conservation Reserve and the Trust for Nature's Wanderers Plain Reserve.
Koorangie NCR comprises a number of blocks and includes Lake Bael Bael, The Marsh, Second Marsh, Third Marsh, Cullen Lake, Sandhill Lake and Lookout Lake. Most of the reserve is Box-Chenopod woodland with lakes and marshes. Most of the Wanderers Plain Reserve is indigenous grassland. There are times when duck shooting is permitted in the Koorangie reserves. Shooting is not permitted on land owned by Trust for Nature.
The link means that a large area west of Kerang is now reserved for conservation. May 2011.
2010 News Items
3,500 hectare reserve opened near Kerang
A new 3,500 reserve near Kerang ~ Wanderers Plain-Bael Bael Grasslands Reserve ~was officially opened on 17th September 2010. The reserve comprises 3,500 hectares of grasslands and semi-arid woodlands whch have been purchased for conservation by Trust for Nature and the Victorian government with the financial backing of the Australian government.
According to Trust for Nature, "These iconic grassland and grassy woodland properties will help to protect some of Australia’s most-threatened species and ecosystems. Bordered by the internationally significant Avoca Marshes, these grassland and grassy woodlands provide some of the most extensive habitat for a range of State and Nationally threatened plants and animals. Key examples include the Hooded scaly-foot legless lizard, the flowering Swainson pea and birds such as the Plains-wanderer and Grey-crowned Babbler.
"The Wanderers Plain and Bael Bael Grasslands Nature Conservation Reserve is an important addition to Australia’s National Reserve System. It will remain an integral part of the local community, helping to protect the iconic open grasslands and Buloke woodlands that make the Riverine Plains so special."
A booklet produced by the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Conservation and protection of Northern Plains Grasslands ~ a strategic direction, was launched at the opening. The booklet outlines steps for creating an ecologically-connected network of public and provate conservation lands across Victoria's northern plains.
Following good spring rains, many of the grassland paddocks on the northern plains were alive with colour during late Spring and early Summer.
Roslynmead Grasslands, Terrick Terrick National Park, October 2010 (K Stockwell)
For more information, contact Trust for Nature. October 2010.
A s a result of much rain over August and September, environmental/flood water has been released into Barmah-Millewa Forest and several other wetland areas in northern Victoria and southern NSW. Some lakes and wetlands which have been dry for several years ~ e.g. Lake Cooper, Lake Boga, Richardsons Lagoon and Lake Eppalock ~ are now nearly full. September 2010.
Concerns raised about chemical spraying of locusts
Eris O'Brien writes:
Locust migrations or "plagues" as they are commonly called have been a part of the natural world for millennia. As they naturally occur in grassy landscapes, their presence has often created difficulties for agriculture. However locusts are also important wildlife species and should not be viewed only as pests. The question has always been, 'how do we most efficiently get rid of these pests?' rather than stepping back and considering their place in the ecosystem. Locust migrations are a natural ecological event; they have a profound influence on the function of ecosystems, not dissimilar to climatic events in their effects over a large area. This is especially true in endangered grassland ecosystems in Australia where cycles of drought, flood, fire and locusts would have shaped the evolution of the environment as we see it.
"There needs to be a balanced view where environmentally sustainable methods of living with locusts are investigated. Yes, there will continue to be some crop damage in the event of a 'plague', but the environmental benefits that such a 'plague' brings need to be considered."
Eris is particularly concerned about the impact of using chemical sprays on wildlife, especially on the wildlife of the northern Victorian (Patho) plains and the impact of sprays on endangered animals such as the endangered Plains-wanderer.
Eris has produced an alarming, professional video which can be viewed by clicking here.
He has also produced a web site, www.savethelocust.com
For a podcast in which Eris is interviewed by Red Symonds, click here
Eris was also interviewed on Stateline Victoria on 1st October and the interview can be watched as a podcast from the Stateline Victoria web page.
Some ornithologists are concerned that raptors which either eat dead or dying locusts or prey that has fed upon poisoned locusts could die. The fear is that there may be unintended outcomes/unintended victims of the sprays.
The view expressed are those of Eris. September 2010.
$57.5 million Perricoota Project under way
A 57.5 million dollar project to enhance the delivery of environmental and flood water to the wetlands of the Perricoota-Koondrook Forest is under way. The project involves the construction of a 3.8km canal from Torrumbarry Weir as well as the construction of levee banks and bridges. This forest and its wetlands have been under stress for several years. The release of environmental water will help alleviate the problem. Most of the water released will eventually find its way back into the river system for re-use downstream. September 2010. See also the notes below and above about projects in Gunbower Forest which lies opposite the perricoota-Koondrook Forest, on the Victorian side of th Murray River.
Note: Much of Perricoota Forest will be closed during 2011 whilst the engineering works are being carried out. A section of forest accessible via Belbins Road is now open to the public during dry weather. May 2011.
Creeping Peril: report on state of NSW weeds
Most of the 340 weeds causing environmental harm in NSW were deliberately introduced as garden and pasture plants. Few are banned, and many are still being sold. There are also no restrictions on the sale of thousands of potential new weed species. More than 99% of the 30,000 exotic plant species in Australia can be planted freely in NSW. Their impact is greater than you might think, in many more ways than you thought possible, and the ramifications for birds and other wildlife are many and varied.
In August 2010, a telling report on the state of weeds in NSW, called Stopping NSW’s Creeping Peril was launched.Tthe report discusses many of the issues that surround weeds and their control and management. The report calls for better weed laws, policies and funding in NSW to tackle weed invasions that are overwhelming authorities and landholders.
Source: Email from Birds Australia, September 2010.
Gunbower Creek restoration project well under way
A project to improve habitat alongside Gunbower Creek is progressing well. Much of the fencing required to separate private from public land has either been completed or is nearing completion. Construction work is under way on a new Thompson Weir and fish ladder. Box Thorns, Willows and other woody weeds are being removed and pest control measures are under way to reduce the number of rabbits and hares. Vegetation has responded well to reent rains and more plantings are about to be under taken. Much public land alongside the creek has been incorporated into the newGunbower National Park; most of the remaining public land alongside the creek is a streamside reserve. A Caring for Country grant was received to finance the cost of materials and to pay contractors. Much voluntary work is also being done. 30 July 2010.
National Parks in Barmah-Millew forest declared open
Most of the Barmah-Millewa Forest is now a cross-border national park. On the Victorian side of the forest, Barmah National Park was declared open on 29th June 2010 whilst national park on the NSW side of the river was declared open on 1st July 2010. The nearby Bama Forest in NSW is now a regional park as is the Moama Wetlands (Horseshoe Lagoon Regional Park) and the Five Mile Reserve (Moama Regional Park). There has been much local opposition to the creation of these new reserves, mainly from those with vested commercial interests and from residents of Mathoura and some neighbouring towns. August 2010.
New Parks officially opened
New red gum wetland national parks and reserves were officially opened in late June (Victoria) or on the 1st July (NSW). The new national parks include Barmah and Millewa, Gunbower, Ovens-Warby and Lower Goulburn River national parks.Several grassland paddocks have been added to Terrick Terrick National Park. Murray River Park is along, linear parkin Victoria extending along much of the Murray River. July 2010
Loddon Plains Landcare Network formed
Several Landcare groups are amongst the organisations that have joined the Loddon Plains Landcare Network. The network has already obtained a significant amount of funding (e.g. from the Norman Wettenhall Foundation) to help it carry out conservation projects. July 2010.
Environmental water for Richardson's Lagoon
During June, environmental water was released into Richardson's (Baillieu's) Lagoon, Torrumbarry. The delivery of the water has been facilitated as a result of a new pipeline. The water is expected to attract large numbers of water birds.The lagoon will be "topped up" during Spring. When full, the lagoon usually attracts White-bellied Sea-eagles, Brolga and a range of ducks and other water birds.
• A number of White-bellied Sea-eagles have been feasting on carp trapped by the falling level of Moira Lake. June 2010.
Wentworth Group of Scientists calls for more environmental water
Concerned about the deteriorating condition of the Murray-Darling Basin, the Wentworth Group of Scientists has called for a 39% cut in the amount of water taken out of the Murray River for irrigation in order to 'save' the environment. An increase in environmental water allocations would help revitalise the natural vegetation and wildlife of the Murray Basin. Much of the environmental water released into wetlands would find its way back into the river system for use downstream. The riverside vegetation, wetlands and wildlife are in poor condition, following many years of drought and lower and fewer floods. Local federal member Sussan Ley attacked the scientists 'recommendations as 'disgraceful, with extreme thinking and poor methodology'. Source: media reports.
One thing that seems misunderstood is that environmental water is not all wasted water. Authorities claim that between 80% (NRC) and 96% (GB CMA/DSE) of environmental water released into Barmah-Millewa Forest will find its way back into the river system where it can be reused downstream. June 2010
Auditor-General concerned about inadequate pest and weed control
Victoria's Auditor-General has criticised Parks Victoria and Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) for their performance with respect to pest animals and weeds in state and national parks. He recommends that DSE and Parks should review and update their agreement to clearly assign responsibilities and respective roles for pest and weed management. Parks Victoria should also assess the effectiveness of invasive weeds management. The Auditor-General recommended a landscape-scale framework to identify invasive species objectives and priorities. Databases need updating. An appropriate level of funding should be allocated to pest animal and weed management. All state and national parks should have appropriate management plans and more people should be involved. DPI, DSE and Parks should monitor, evaluate and report on invasive species management across public and private land.
Many conservation-minded people have long ben concerned about the lack of resources available for pest animal and weed control. Source: Report in 'Country News' June 2010.
Conservation groups combine to campaign for better fire management plan
Concerned about inappropriate and frequent fuel-reduction burns in Greater Bendigo National Park and surrounding bush areas, Bendigo area conservation groups have combined to campaign for a more-appropriate and more ecologically-sound fuel reduction/fire management plan for public land around Bendigo. More scientific research is needed on the impact of fires on box-ironbark ecosystems. The group has met with members of parliament and representatives of DSE. A bus tour highlighted some of the pitfalls and deficiencies in the planning. In spite of representations, some areas of significant vegetation have been burnt. June 2010
Engineering works underway in Kanyapella
Two structures and associated levee banks have been constructed in the Kanyapella Basin in order to facilitate the delivery of floodwaters and environmental water allocations into Kanyapella Basin. It will be possible to flood part or all of the Basin. In other developments, fencing is being upgraded. Members of the advisory committee are disturbed by illegal cutting down of habitat trees in the Basin. Parks Victoria, DSE and other authorities are periodically blitzing the area in an attempt to catch and prosecute the environmental vandals responsible. June 2010.
Thieves undermine conservation efforts
Thieves have stolen thousands of dollars worth of fencing materials from Terrick Terrick National Park. The fencing material was to be used to protect endangered vegetation communities. Some of the gates and fencing had already been erected when it was stolen. Committee members of the Friends of Terrick Terrick National Park are very disappointed that conservation efforts have been undermined by selfish thieves.
Gates have been stolen in the Kanyapella Basin Wildlife Area. They are being replaced with cattle grids.
Last year, much fencing protecting bushland was damaged alongside Richardson's Lagoon. June 2010.
Cutback in funding for conservation
The Caring for Country scheme, which aims to conserve and restore habitat in country areas, has had its funding slashed in the Australian Government's 2010 budget. The National Heritage Trust had a $70,000,000 cut and Landcare had $10,000,000 shaved from it. The government also announced that it will not try to introduce a greenhouse gas abatement scheme this year or next. However the government announced that it would spend more on advertising and promotion. May 2010
2009 News Items
New national parks voted in
Both houses of the Victorian parliament have voted to establish national parks and reserves in Red Gum wetlands along the Murray, Goulburn and Ovens rivers.
The new national parks are Barmah National Park (incorporating the State Park and most of Barmah State Forest), Gunbower National Park (Murray riverside reserves plus about half of what was Gunbower State Forest), Lower Goulburn River National Park and Warby Range National Park (the former Warby State Park plus Killawarra State Forest and reserves along the Ovens River).
Some public land along the Murray River downstream of Mildura is to be added to the Murray Sunset National Park. Paddocks of indigenous grassland have been added to Terrick Terrick National Park even though they are not contiguous but separated from the main section by privately-owned land.
A considerable number of nature conservation reserves have been announced.
Timber workers who may lose their jobs as a result of the establishment of the conservation reserves have access to a $4.5 million assistance package and a number of workers are being offered employment. Gunbower, Benwell and Guttram forests will continue to be logged.
As a transitional measure, firewood will be able to be collected until 30 June 2011 from previous saw log harvesting residue remaining on the ground in specified areas of Barmah and Gunbower national parks.
Licensed stock grazing will not be permitted in the new park areas. To assist licensees to adjust, grazing will be progressively phased out across the parks by no later than 30 September 2014. Source: newspaper reports. December 2009.
Rejuvenation of Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest
Several schemes are under way to improve the health of wetlands in the Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest which is located astride the Murray River downstream of Echuca-Moama.
A $600,000 project is proposed to enable environmental water to more efficiently and effectively reach wetlands of the Perricoota Forest. The scheme involves the construction of an irrigation channel from Torrumbarry Weir. Some levee banks will be rebuilt and some new levee banks constructed so that flood waters are less likely to spill over onto adjoining privately-owned land which adjoins the forest. A large private property at the Moama end of the forest has been purchased and part of it incorporated into the Perricoota State Forest.
A project is under way to fence sections of Gunbower Creek where public land abuts private property .Because there has been some encroachment upon public land, some existing fences will be demolished and new ones built on the correct property lines. It is hoped that fences will stop cattle from grazing right up to the edge of the creek, thereby reducing pollution. Areas of degraded vegetation is likely to recover as a result of natural regenerate and tree planting. Rubbish is to be removed and improvements are to be made to a weir to facilitate the passage of native fish.
Environmental water has been released into Black Swamp and adjoining areas of Gunbower Island State Forest.
A pipeline has been constructed to allow the passage of water from The Murray River into Richardson's (Baillieu's) Lagoon near Torrumbarry This lagoon was previously fed by a creek which carried irrigation runoff, water which was polluted with farm fertilisers and cattle waste, resulting in a polluted lagoon with large numbers of exotic carp. The pipeline has a mesh filter to prevent the passage of large carp into the lagoon. The lagoon will continue to be allowed to dry out from time to time as was the case before 'river regulation'.
Furthermore, parts of Gunbower Island have been declared 'national park'. The Victorian government has promised to increase the number of park rangers to better manage this public land. Lumbering will continue to be permitted under licence on much of the remaining public land. Because of the environmental damage it causes, cattle grazing will not be permitted in the national park or, apart from special environmental reasons, on public land.
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