David King: Bushcare Legend 2015

To an ordinary person, the idea of founding five Bushcare groups, and keeping them sustained, year after year, with chocolate cakes and chai, through rain, hail and shine, while also juggling the demands of full time work and family, would seem like a crazy task.

But David King, son of Aunty Mary King, Gundungurra   Aboriginal elder, and member of The Gully Traditional Owners, is no ordinary person.

David is this year’s Bushcare Legend of the Year, an award presented by Council each year for outstanding achievements in the field of Bushcare.

The award is the highest level of recognition we can give anyone within the Bushcare Program. It recognises sustained efforts over many years.

David was nominated by the Bushcare staff because he is an inspirational leader and working companion. He has the sort of enthusiasm that makes everyone around him feel great. We truly don’t know where he gets his energy from.

Over the past 15 years, Mr King has enthused many local volunteers in the task of restoring and caring for the Country he holds dear.

He has established and nurtured several Bushcare and Landcare groups, including Gulunga Bushcare at Horseshoe Falls, Gibbergunyah Bushcare Group at Gloria Park, Hazelbrook, and Garang Landcare Group at Faulconbridge Lily Pond.

Mr King is also the driving force behind the creation and success of Garguree Swampcare. With support from Council’s Environment Levy and multiple grants from the NSW Environmental Trust, Garguree Swampcare volunteers – under David King’s leadership – are restoring the degraded swamp systems within ‘The Gully’, an Aboriginal Place (adjacent to the Katoomba Sports & Aquatic Centre), managed in partnership between The Gully Traditional Owners and Council.

Thanks to years of hard work controlling weeds, planting and restoring creeklines and swamp areas, the Gully swamp systems are starting to come back to life. As the swamp recovers, the group is sharing the significance of The Gully and the cultural importance of swamps through cultural awareness workshops, walks and talks.

And as the country heals, personal connections are also thriving. Through Garguree Swampcare, people from across the Aboriginal, local and broader community have formed   personal, enduring relationships as they work together Caring for Country.

Now, Mr King is looking to inspire the custodians of the future. Most recently, he has started the Birriban Landcare group at Katoomba High School, where a whole new generation of young people are being captivated with this enthusiasm for caring for Country.

It has been a deeply personal journey for both David and his family, who are reconnecting to Country through restoring the lands that have been a part of their family for thousands of years.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said “Many people don’t realise it, but it’s often dedicated locals like these, working quietly and tirelessly in the background, that we can thank for healthy local creeks and bushland, including the birds and animals that depend on them.”

“Because year in, year out, they are helping to tackle weeds, replant native habitats, reduce stormwater pollution and restore creek lines across the City.”

“People like David King are true local legends – they’re helping to look after our local bushland, waterways and wildlife, so we can all enjoy them into the future,” said Mr Greenhill.

Council supports more than 500 community conservation volunteers across the City each year, through Council’s Environment Levy.

Jenny Hill, last year’s Bushcare Legend, presented Mr King with the Golden Trowel of Recognition at the Bushcare Picnic, held annually by Council to thank local community conservation volunteers. View the Garguree Swampcare story on youtube at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIDtzDeVx0w

 

Winning the Willow War

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 Removing willows will help to improve creek health at the headwaters of Leura Cascades

Council, the Leura Creek Landcare Group and the South Leura Catchment Group have teamed up with the Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA) and the Greater Sydney Local Land Services (GSLLS) to realise a vision to eradicate invasive willows from the South Leura catchment.

Council is matching $17,250 in grant funding from the SCA over three years with investment from Council’s Environment Levy, including the provision of technical advice, on-the-ground support, plants and tools. A $20,000 grant from the GSLLS for 2015 will add further resources to the effort.

Willow control is part of Council’s Noxious Weeds Program, which targets noxious (highly invasive, destructive) weeds across the City. This program  provides assistance for private landholders who proactively control willow on their property.

Pussy willow (Salix cinerea), was introduced in the early days of European settlement, and rapidly spread across the Blue Mountains, particularly between Mount Victoria and Hazelbrook.

Willows thrive in streams, swamps and moist forests, often becoming very dense, and their impact on waterways can be devastating – destroying habitats for fish and other animals; causing erosion and localised flooding; and depleting creek waters of oxygen, making it difficult for aquatic life. They can also spread very quickly, so early detection and control is critical.

Pussy willow seed can drift up to 100 kilometres by wind or water before taking hold at a new site – much like a bushfire can spot ahead of the main front.

The good news is that Council and the community are gradually winning the willow battle. Pussy willows are now under advanced control between Mt Victoria and Katoomba. With a systematic, comprehensive approach, it will be possible to win the willow war in the Blue Mountains.

Council is encouraging residents to report pussy willow sightings to Council’s Noxious Weeds team, on 4780 5000.

Other weeds currently being targeted by Council’s Noxious Weeds control program include Gorse, Broom, Boneseed, African Olive, Lantana and   Cabomba.

Find out more about weeds in your local area or Council’s Weed Management Strategy at:

www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/weedmanagement

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Community Conservation Program Review

                                                                                   by Linda Thomas (Community Weeds Officer)

WHAT IS THE CCP?

Council’s Community Conservation Programs includes Bushcare, Landcare, Trackcare, Community Water Monitoring (Streamwatch) and the Bush Backyards Scheme. The Swampcare program is treated as part of Bushcare / Landcare   activities.

Under the collective program area of the Community Conservation Program (CCP), these community networks take part in on-ground environmental management of natural and built assets throughout the City. All of these programs are about partnerships between Council and community.

Community volunteers make an enormous contribution to Council’s environmental management programs, with over 500 community members volunteering annually in Community Conservation programs.

In addition to the on-ground benefits realised from these volunteer conservation programs, they also generate community capital and goodwill, and a strong sense of connection with the City’s environment.

REVIEW OF THE CCP

As part of Council’s commitment to CCP a review was conducted to ensure that resources invested in these programs continue to be well directed, are responsive to community needs, and provide value for money.

The review, conducted from March to September 2013, provided an overview of the current CCP programs, the issues and challenges, and alternative strategies for the future. It included extensive community and staff stakeholder consultation.

All of the feedback received through the entire consultation process was used to inform the development of a final Community Conservation Program Plan which was adopted by Council at its meeting of 11 November 2014.

Thanks to all who participated in the consultation process.

The final CCP Plan responds to the changing community and organisational needs revealed in the review and outlines how Council will address these issues and challenges.

A copy of the final Community Conservation Program Plan 2014 and a summary of submissions received during the public exhibition and Council’s responses to submissions can be viewed in Council’s library and on the web here:

http://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/sustainableliving/environmentalinformation/bushcare/communityconservationprogram

 

On the web …

Wombats !

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Check out this is adorable story about wombat re-introductions into western Sydney…

http://newslocal.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

The Other Green Army

was screened in two parts on Tuesdays 8th and 15th April on Radio National’s “Earshot”, If you In case you missed it, you can download it from:                                                                                      http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/earshot/.

Our own Nick Franklin, Blue Mountains Bushcare volunteer and professional bush regenerator, tells the story of how the ‘eccentric’ Bradley sisters started bush regeneration – a movement that radicalised the battle against one of the greatest and oldest enemies of the Australian bush – invasive weeds.

Environment Levy Report

The new look Environment Levy Report (6 months July – Dec 2014) is completed. This is a   comprehensive report on Levy-funded programs and achievements and is now up on the BMCC website at:

http://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/sustainableliving/environmentalinformation/environmentlevy/environmentlevyreports or go to www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/environmentlevy and look for the link at the bottom of the page.

 

 

 

 

Bushcare News

Did you notice the fabulous abundance of Pink Flannel Flowers - Actinotus forsthythii - in the Lithgow area this Summer following the fires of the year before? Kim Toolin created this beautiful image (Kim is one of our payroll officers with a keen eye for plants as well as numbers!)

Did you notice the fabulous abundance of Pink Flannel Flowers – Actinotus forsthythii – in the Lithgow area this Summer following the fires of the year before? Kim Toolin created this beautiful image (Kim is one of our payroll officers with a keen eye for plants as well as numbers!)

The highlight of this season was undoubtedly the annual Picnic – what a wonderful day. A very big thank you to Erin for being chief organiser, the team for pulling it altogether and to everyone for contributing. See the double page spread with photo highlights. Well done David King on a very well earned Legend of the Year and to all our award recipients: Landcare Legends: Doug & Margaret Mavay; Junior Legends Kie & Tyrone Saunders; Susan Jalaluddin & Elly Chatfield (Hard Yakkas); Jeanette Adrian (Master). Popes Glen and Fairy Dell reached 25 year milestones this year – fabulous. Thank you for continuing your incredible Bushcare efforts and for inspiring us all to do the same.

We’ve got a good selection of bushcaring and learning opportunities coming up, and more to come later in the year, including the Bushcare Network Conference on August 31st. And for more news & events, don’t forget to check our website www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au or make sure you’re subscribed to receive our events bulletin by email.

Have fun out there enjoying the bush!

Monica & Erin, for the Bushcare Team.

 

Easy Care Raingardens Offer Hope for Waterways by Emma Kennedy

“If we care about the quality of our drinking water, and the health of our local waterways, we need to rethink the way we deal with stormwater”

That was the take-home message for around 30 residents, business owners, students and Birriban Landcare members who attended a recent workshop run by Council at Katoomba High School.

The workshop highlighted the damage done by urban stormwater runoff – the biggest single threat to local waterways. It also showed practical things people can do on their own properties to protect local creeks.

Council’s Aquatic Systems Officer, Amy StLawrence said, ”In nature, 90% of rainwater soaks into the ground, feeding plants and recharging all-important ground water systems.”

“But in urban areas, hard surfaces such as roads, roofs and paving fundamentally change the way rainwater moves in the landscape.”

“When it rains, water that falls onto these areas is channelled into downpipes and drains. It’s then discharged in one hit, unfiltered and at speed, directly into our waterways.” This causes enormous problems for local creeks, lakes and lagoons.

Stormwater tears away and destroys creek banks. Soil and sediment from unsealed driveways, roads and building sites clog creeks and waterholes. Decaying organic matter, such as grass clippings, suck oxygen out of the water, making it difficult for aquatic life. The extra nutrients then help weeds to flourish. Stormwater also flushes pollutants, such as chemicals, sewage and litter, directly into creeks.

“Many of our local creeks are showing signs of stormwater stress, while once popular swimming spots are no longer suitable for swimming.”

“The challenge is to capture and reuse stormwater as a resource, or to slow it down and filter it before it enters our waterways.”

“The best way to do this at home is to install a rainwater tank or a raingarden,” said Ms St Lawrence.

A raingarden looks like an ordinary garden bed, but uses a special soil mix and specially selected plants to retain, hold and filter stormwater. Raingarden beds are easy to build using readily available materials. And they generally don’t need watering, so they are easy to care for.

Even if rainwater tanks and gardens are not an option, Council says you can still do your bit for local waterways by keeping leaves, detergents, chemicals and sediment out of gutters and drains, and by washing your car on the lawn instead of the driveway.

“One of my favourite things about living in the Mountains is having beautiful creeks and bushland on my doorstep. I knew my local creek had problems, but I had no idea how much damage stormwater causes. I can’t wait to get started now on my own raingarden,” said John Smith, from Leura, who attended the workshop.

“My business is adjacent to Leura Creek, and I’m concerned about the stormwater runoff from my carpark. I want to put in a raingarden to slow down and filter the water before it goes into the creek,” said a Mary Smith, a local business owner.

The workshop was run as part of a $300,000, twelve-month project by Council (funded by Council’s Environment Levy) to improve the health of Leura Falls Creek and downstream Leura Cascades – in partnership with Water NSW.

As part of the project, Council is also restoring sections of the creek and installing treatment systems at stormwater outlets across the catchment.

Leura Cascades is one of the Blue Mountains most iconic tourism destinations. Like many local waterways, it also flows into Warragamba Dam, which services over four million people with drinking water.

Local volunteers, supported by Council and Water NSW, will be conducting regular water quality testing in the catchment to track the results of the project.

A similar project at Glenbrook Lagoon – also funded by Council’s Environment Levy – aimed at reducing stormwater pollution, is showing early signs of success. Tests show the new, $120,000 stormwater filtration systems there are reducing bacteria entering the lagoon by up to 90%.

Council’s Environment Levy raises around $1.5 million annually from Council rates and is used to restore local creeks, improve water quality, control noxious weeds and maintain walking tracks. It also funds regular water quality monitoring at over 40 local creek sites. Council is currently restoring over 130 creek and bushland sites across the City.

Council is running a Catchment Crawl Tour of the Leura Falls Creek Catchment on 3 May for local residents and business owners. Places are limited. To book, or for more information, call Council on 4780 5000.

Want to see a working rain garden in action? Visit the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. There’s a rooftop raingarden on the viewing platform. To find out how to build your own rain garden, visit

http://www.melbournewater.com.au/raingardens

 

Bird Watching Event

 Deanei Reserve 24th Jan2015

Early Saturday morning on the 24th January eighteen fine bushcarers and interested twitters headed to the Deanei to see if we could spot some birds.  The walk was guided by Graham Turner who has many years of experience and is a great presenter with many many wow facts about local birds –and his bird calls are just amazing to listen to. Graham was surprised at how many birds we did see(January is not a particularly great time of year for bird observation) We ended up sighting or hearing the calls of 36 birds in all –a wonderful effort and what I noticed most is the wonderful & peaceful vista that lies within the Deanei.It is just so beautiful –tall graceful gums with Thornbills in the high canopy , whip birds in the distance , fire tails coming in close and as Graham pointed out the Deanei is the perfect place for Wonga pidgeons.   One of the highlights was to see a Pacific Bazza which Graham explained as a Climate Change bird –it seems to be expanding its southern extreme. We look forward to another twitch very soon.

A big thank you to Frank Winternitz and Graham Turner for enabling this wonderful event to occur.

Contributions to Winter edition of Gecko

Your contributions to Gecko are always welcome! The closing date for articles or photos to be included in the next issue is 20th March.

Please contact Monica Nugent on 4780 5528 or email [email protected] if you have a contribution or suggestions for inclusion.

Articles should be a maximum of approximately 350 words, in a WORD document with plain formatting.

It is preferable if photos are saved as separate jpeg files, under 1 megabyte.

I look forward to your ideas!

Bushcare News Autumn 2015

No doubt you all need a rest after a busy Summer of celebrating, weeding and regenerating, so here’s another packed issue of Gecko – you have an excuse to make a cuppa, put your feet up and settle down for a good read about the great environmental protection work we’re all engaged in. Full of contributions from Environment Branch staff as well as Bushcare Team members and volunteers: Powerful owls, weed control in threatened forests, feral fish and a swamp study – there’s surely something for everybody this Autumn!

Late in 2014 Council’s Bush Regeneration Team discovered the remains of a bird found in Lapstone Reserve with mixed feelings. Naturally they were saddened, but also curious: they thought it might be a Powerful Owl, but weren’t sure. Tracy Williams made some enquiries with Council’s Environmental Scientist who verified that Bush Regeneration Team member Matt Rudge’s initial identification was correct and also referred her to Birdlife Australia’s Sydney Powerful Owl project. This very interesting and important project is the subject of our feature article “King of the Night Forest”.

Your Bushcare program goes from strength to strength. Our 65 Bushcare, Landcare and Swampcare Groups have already contributed over 3,500 hours of voluntary bush regeneration since June, and we can welcome one new Landcare Group: Birriban Katoomba High School – a big thank you to David King and Elly Chatfield as well as Steve Ahern and other KHS staff! We can also welcome back Redgum Park, Bullaburra, which recently restarted thanks to Vanessa Keyser.

Well done Bushcarers – thank you. We look forward to seeing you on a Bushcare site soon!

Monica & Erin, for the Bushcare Team

 

Taking Action on Noxious Weeds By Emma Kennedy (Environment Communication & Engagement Officer)

Council is calling on lower Blue Mountains residents to help protect endangered local forests by controlling noxious weeds such as Lantana, Privet and African Olive on their properties.

These highly aggressive, invasive weeds are a major threat to the last remnants of Shale Sandstone Transitional Forest (SSTF) and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest (STIF). The lower Blue Mountains is the last stronghold for these rare and unique forests.

Grey Gums are one of the tree species typically found in Shale Sandstone Transition Forests (above).  Images: Jill Dark

Grey Gums (Eucalyptus punctata) are one of the tree species typically found in Shale Sandstone Transition Forests (above and below). Images: Jill Dark

grey gum flower j dark

SSTF is listed as a Critically Endangered Ecological Community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and STIF is listed as an Endangered Ecological Community under that Act, as well as Critically Endangered under the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act.

These acts offer some protection for communities on publicly owned land such as in national parks and Council reserves, but many of the last remnants of these forests exist on private properties. By working together with local residents to control local noxious weeds, Council hopes to give these natural treasures a future.

Noxious weeds are a major threat to Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forests, which provide habitat for Sugar Gliders (above). Image: Jill Dark

Noxious weeds are a major threat to Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forests, which provide habitat for Sugar Gliders (left). Image: Jill Dark

Home to species such as Sugar Gliders and Powerful Owls, Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forests have dwindled since European settlement from 26,500ha down to a mere 500ha.

Council has cleared some major infestations of Lantana, Privet and African Olive around Glenbrook, Blaxland, Valley Heights and Springwood town centres and is asking local residents to check for and control noxious weeds on their properties.

 

By law (Noxious Weeds Act 1993), both Council and private landowners have a legal responsibility to control noxious weeds on land in their care. Under the Act, Council is also required to inspect private lands; ensure landowners and land managers are controlling noxious weeds; and monitor invasive weed species. Council will be inspecting around 700 private residences in Glenbrook this financial year as part of this role.

The spread of weeds is one of the Blue Mountains worst environmental problems, with over $1 million spent every year by Council on weed control. Of all weeds, declared Noxious weeds pose the greatest threat to local biodiversity – they spread like wildfire, invade bushland and waterways, and are capable of destroying whole ecosystems. Lantana alone has degraded more than four million hectares Australia-wide.

Find out if you have any of these forests on your land using Council’s interactive mapping tool at:  http://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/bmccmap/parcel_search.cfm

If you think you do have some, contact Council on 4780 5000 and ask to speak to someone in Environmental Management.

To learn how to identify and control noxious weeds on your property, visit:
http://weedsbluemountains.org.au/index.php

For more information about the legislative status of both these important plant communities see:
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/committee/finaldeterminations.htm
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10789