Combienbar Improvements

The last six years has shown a big difference on the Combienbar River!

For many years the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) has been partnering with landholders along the Combienbar River; constructing 20km of fencing and installing off-stream stock watering systems to keep cattle out of the waterway. A weed control program followed together with planting native plants to help reduce erosion in the river channel and provide habitat for wildlife. The photos above show the last six years of change. As they say, proofs in the pudding.

Through the Victorian Government’s Regional Riparian Action Plan initiative, farmers, Landcare groups, angling clubs and the wider community are improving areas like the Combienbar. Through people working together, we are seeing great results for the critters who call our rivers home.

Mallacoota Estuary Update

With the Mallacoota estuary entrance currently closed to the sea, the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) continues to regularly monitor the estuary levels as part of our waterway management role.

Last week Mallacoota received about 60mm of rain, which has increased the estuary water level to 0.92m on the gauge located on the public jetty by the boat ramp. For a successful opening to be considered the water level needs to be more than 1.5m on the gauge. An artificial opening below this level is unlikely to last for more than a few days before closing again.

When the estuary is closed for extended periods areas such as the town boat ramp, the foreshore walking path, car parks, moorings and some private property is affected.

Ideally, a good rain event will open the entrance naturally, however, there have been times in the past when the estuary has been opened artificially.  A decision to artificially open the estuary is made by the EGCMA, with the works being undertaken by Parks Victoria.

An artificial opening is not being planned at present. In planning an artificial opening, the main physical factors considered are the level of the water in the estuary, the predicted tide levels at sea, the forecast weather conditions and the distance of the sand bench between the beach and the lake.

The main environmental factor considered is the oxygen levels in the estuary at the time of the proposed opening to avoid a fish kill.  A fish kill can occur if the oxygenated water drains from the top water layers and forces fish into the lower oxygen-depleted water. This data is collected regularly in the lead up to an opening to help inform our decision making.

Further information about estuary conditions and the timing of an artificial opening can be found here.

Respecting Country

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) has been working with the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation and local landholders to improve the condition of the Mitchell River Catchment and preserve Gunaikurnai cultural heritage.

On the banks of the Upper Mitchell, 800m of willows has been removed and the banks will be planted with native trees and shrubs to reduce erosion, improve riverbank stability and promote biodiversity. GLaWAC Cultural Heritage Officers Nicky Moffat and Paula Martin visited the site when the initial works got underway to identify the nature of any Aboriginal cultural heritage findings although none were ultimately unearthed.

“Working in partnership with GLaWAC before work starts helps ensure that our activity does not disturb areas of cultural importance.” noted Graeme Dear, CEO of the EGCMA.

It’s a RRAP

East Gippsland is known for it’s beautiful rivers and waterways from Mallacoota to Bairnsdale. Funding through the Victorian Government’s Regional Riparian Action Plan (RRAP) has enabled the Authority to work in partnership with landholders, community groups and traditional owners to enhance recreational fishing, maintain sites of cultural significance and reduce impacts from stock grazing. Some examples are described below.

Landholders

On Tonghi Creek (flowing into the Cann River), landholder Chris Nixon has recently completed works on his property. Upgrading fences and installing water troughs will keep stock off the creek and provide an alternative water supply. These measures will improve water quality and support the regeneration of native plants improving the health of Tonghi creek.

Partners

GLaWAC’s natural resource management crew provide services including fencing, weed control, growing seedlings, revegetation and cultural awareness training in Gippsland. Recently the NRM crew have been working to improve public access points to the well known fishing spots at the mouth of the Tambo River.  These works are part of a coordinated effort to improve the access points and health of the Tambo River where many people like to visit.

Community

The Twin Rivers Community Group are currently improving public access points at five popular fishing sites on the Tambo River around Swan Reach. Funded through the RRAP Angling Grants, the project will make significant contributions to restoring and maintaining the health of the Tambo River, improving recreational fishing access and re-establishing vegetation along the river.

Seedling ideas on Skull Creek

With gloves at the ready, students from Lindenow Primary School celebrated National Tree Day last week with a visit to the upper reaches of Skull Creek.

The grade 5’s & 6’s planted over 300 native seedlings, including the endangered Woolly Waterlily, in an an effort to help restore the 10 km stretch of wetlands near Lindenow.

With the new plants in the ground, the kids even found time to investigate the tiny critters that live in the waterholes with the team from Bug Blitz and got their dance on with a little help from Uncle Alfie Hudson.

The event was organised by Greening Australia (GA) in collaboration with the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority with funding provided by the Victorian State Governments ‘Our Catchment, Our Communities’ plan.

Martin Potts, from GA appreciates the significance of being able to foster relationships with the environment from an early age. “These students are directly involved in improving the biodiversity around their own community, what better way to begin to understand the importance of protecting these wetland habitats as a whole.” he said.

Grade six teacher Adam Cairns appreciates the connection that these excursions bring to the biological studies being taught in the classroom. “It’s important that the kids learn that they can have an impact in the community, through planting trees and keeping the environment thriving, as they’ll be responsible for looking after it soon enough. “