In the Bushcare Team there have been a number of exciting changes in recent times. We have Tanya Mein joining as the Bushland Projects Officer whilst Erin Hall is on Maternity Leave and due to start at the end of the month will be Mick Owen, the new Bushcare Team Leader. Mick will be keen to catch up with the individual groups once he starts, and we’ll introduce him more fully in the next issue.
Tanya joins the Bushcare team as Bushland Project Officer after spending a year working as the BMCC Waste and Resources Project Officer where she did education and engagement activities. Prior to that, Tanya spent 7 years working at Hornsby Council on Community Gardens, Bushcare and in the Native Nursery. Tanya has also worked at NPWS and Conservation Volunteers Australia. Tanya will be sharing the position with Erin when she returns from parental leave.
Tanya Mein joins the Bushcare Team as Project Officer
– Eric Mahony, Bushland Operations Co-ordinator, for the Bushcare Team
Minnehaha Falls plunge pool – full of sediment washed into Yosemite Creek from many years of urban development
This year at the annual NSW Local Government Awards, the Blue Mountains City Council and the local North Katoomba community was recognised for its outstanding work over many years, winning the Division C and Overall Category Winner of the Natural Environment Protection and Enhancement: On-Ground Works Award, for the project the Return of the “Bottomless Pool’ in Yosemite Creek, North Katoomba.
The result is the culmination of decades of work addressing urban stormwater runoff and weed invasion, which had previously resulted in sedimentation, erosion and decline of Yosemite Creek’s water quality, as well as loss of habitat and aquatic biodiversity across the Katoomba and Minnehaha Falls Creek.
Local residents lamented the loss of their favourite swimming hole, as the ‘bottomless pool’ at the base of Minnehaha Falls had filled with sediment. A coordinated and collaborative approach with the Blue Mountains City Council, government agencies, businesses and the local community resulted in the successful restoration of Yosemite Creek and the return of the pools including Minnehaha’s ‘bottomless’ plunge pool.
Key to the success of the project has been the long term involvement of a number of Bushcare and Landcare groups in the broader Katoomba and Minnehaha Falls Creek both through on ground action and the coordination of annual sub catchment planning meetings. These groups have, through the leadership of Lyndal Sullivan, provided a well-coordinated approach to catchment management working closely with Council and NPWS through their yearly planning meetings.
The work of the Minnehaha Falls Bushcare Group needs special mention for its unfailing commitment and the positive results it has been able to achieve in significantly improving the health of the bushland and aquatic habitat of this stream.
The same pool – now clear of sediment and staying that way – thanks to bush regeneration (both paid and unpaid) and improved stormwater management throughout the Yosemite Creek catchment.
Back row from left: Matthew Steele, Jane Anderson, Matthew Rudge, Aaron McKellar, Sue Cunningham. Front row John Parkinson, Helen Munro, Justine Vella. (Team Leader). Absent: Lynn Godfree, Stephanie Chew, Robert Hajjar.
Did you know that Council has its very own team of bush regenerators quietly beavering away behind the scenes? As there have been some changes to the team we thought it a good time to shine the spotlight on them!
We are very lucky to have a very capable and experienced crew led by the newly appointed Justine Vella as Team Leader and Matthew Rudge as Bush Regeneration Project Officer.
The team is currently working on a number of high conservation projects restoring the rare forests of the lower Blue Mountains and Blue Mountains Swamps in the upper mountains.
They are often called upon to support our Bushcare program and Council’s new organisational structure is providing more and more opportunity for them to work more closely with the Bushcare Team. We hope you’ll get to meet them in person on site one day soon!
Over the past century, average land surface temperatures have risen by almost 1° C across the Australian continent. Models suggest this may have already had significant impacts on Australia’s ecosystems and biodiversity in some areas, but these impacts have not been systematically investigated.
CSIRO Land and Water and the Department of the Environment and Energy are undertaking an exciting project to collect stories and anecdotes that will help build a national picture of ecological change (or lack there-of) that has been observed in the past 10-20 years or more. We are looking for people with strong links to Australian environments (e.g. farmers, natural resource managers, ecologists, naturalists) to share their stories for an area they know well, including perceptions of the presence or absence of different types of recent ecological change.
To participate, you would need to be able to select a natural area (e.g. your local region or farm, a Nature Reserve, urban bushland) that you have been familiar with for at least the last 10 years. Note that we are interested both in areas where change has been observed and where change has not been observed.
The survey will take about 30 minutes – please click here to undertake the survey.
Around 400 people enjoyed Wentworth Falls Lake at its best recently at a Waterways Festival held by Blue Mountains City Council, together with Kindle Hill School, Blue Mountains Grammar School, Wentworth Falls Public School and the Jamison Creek Catchment Community Group. Festival goers enjoyed walks, talks, workshops and displays on all things waterways – from crayfish and turtles, to how to have a water-sensitive home.
Locals enjoying healthy waterways craft activities at Wentworth Falls Lake
The festival offered creative and interactive experiences to festival goers, including a water-song painting and a 3-D catchment model. Students and staff from the three schools worked very hard in the lead-up to the event to put together art displays, information on local iconic species, face-painting, performances, treasure hunts and more. Bushcare was well represented, with the Jamison Creek Catchment Care Group stall displaying information on catchment issues, and samples of problem weeds.
Nearly 100 community members contributed their pledge to a ‘pledge waterfall’ promising to take action to protect their local waterways. This included actions such as washing their car on the lawn, controlling invasive weeds, or keeping pollutants out of stormwater drains and gutters.
Cailin Lyddiard (left) Caitlyn Clark (middle) and Mirabai Sigel (right) make friends with a baby turtle.
Council is investing significant resources and working with the community across the catchment to restore Jamison Creek and protect it from urban runoff, including a $700,000 investment in 2017-18, jointly funded by BMCC and Water NSW, and installing new stormwater treatment systems at 15 locations.
(from Left) David Coleby, Rae Druitt, Paul Vale, Lachlan Garland, Clr Romola Hollywood and Mayor Mark Greenhill
Food A pollinator habitat garden is more than just flower beds. By providing an assortment of plants, which flower throughout the year, you are providing a consistent food supply which will encourage pollinating insects and birds to stay, feed, drink, shelter and even reproduce. It is recommended that you plant swathes or large patches of flowers, rather than scattering them randomly through the garden. By planting flowering food-crops in large patches, you encourage specialist pollinators such as bees to forage within these patches, cross pollinating the plants as they move efficiently from flower to flower.
Shelter The next thing you need to do is provide potential shelter. You can include hollow logs, pieces of thick bark and crowds of rocks which will provide shelter and nesting substrate for a variety of pollinators. Resin bees, leafcutter bees and solitary wasps will nest in large drilled holes in wood, which mimic the natural cavities produced by wood-boring insects. Hollow or pithy stems can be collected and bundled up when plants are pruned. These will attract reed bees and masked bees as well as small solitary wasps and ants. By providing small cavities in rockeries or with layers of rolled bark, you will be providing shelter for ladybeetles, resin bees and other pollinators.
In Australia, gardeners are encouraged to mulch their plants, to maintain soil moisture. However, some of our pollinators, such as solitary bees and wasps, nest in the ground and find it hard to dig through the thick layers of mulch. So leave an area of bare ground, at least a metre squared, to encourage ground-nesting bees into your garden.
Water is necessary for honey bees and birds so include a shallow bird bath, with a large rock in it to reduce the chances of insects drowning. A bowl filled with wet mud will provide minerals and water for some butterfly species and rocks provide insects with a warm place to bask.
Maintenance of your habitat garden is important if the plants and the pollinators are to thrive. Water deeply and regularly to ensure flowers produce plenty of nectar and pollen. Don’t use insecticides. If a plant is infested with many pests, it may need feeding, pruning or pulling out. A healthy garden will not only encourage pollinators, it will encourage wasps, shield bugs, spiders, dragonflies and other natural pest-predators. Keep the water and mud bowls topped up and place a seat out in the garden so you can sit, observe and enjoy your wonderful pollinator habitat garden.
From 1st July 2017 the NSW State Government has replaced the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 with the Biosecurity Act 2015. Under the Noxious Weeds Act all landowners had a responsibility to control noxious weeds on their property. Under the Biosecurity Act the same responsibility will apply and will be known as a General Biosecurity Duty.
General Biosecurity Duty
Under Part 3 of the Biosecurity Act 2015, landowners or land managers have a “General Biosecurity Duty” to prevent, eliminate or minimise the “Biosecurity Risk” posed or likely to be posed by priority weeds.
What is a Biosecurity Risk?
A biosecurity risk exists where priority weeds have the potential to negatively impact on agriculture, industry, the liveability of our city, human health or the environment.
The new name for invasive weeds
Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 invasive weeds are known as “Biosecurity Matter” or “Priority Weeds”.
The Greater Sydney Local Land Services have created a list of State and Regional Priority Weeds with expected outcomes and recommended measures for each species. Council has also nominated Local Priority Weeds that are a problem within the Local Government Area and specified expected outcomes and control measures for these weeds.
Council has partnered with Water NSW and the Environmental NSW Trust “Swamped by Threats” program to fund the installation of bio-filtration systems for storm water entering Wentworth Falls Lake.
These bio-filtration systems are designed to catch nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, significantly improving water quality. The system includes a treatment train of settling ponds for catching silt, multi layered filtration basin and a sandstone rock armouring, which has been repurposed while excavating the waste cell at the Blaxland Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facility.
Decreasing this nutrient load also helps to reduce the spread of weeds, which can push out local native plants and reduce swamp biodiversity. The swamp is an Endangered Ecological Community and home to several threatened species including the Giant Dragonfly and Blue Mountains Water Skink. Swamps play a vital part in water management as they store water and release it slowly over time in the creeks and streams.