Tag Archives: environmental restoration

Bushcare News: North Katoomba wins Local Government Award for restoring the Minnehaha Falls pool

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.

The BMCC Bush Regeneration Team

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!

 

Wentworth Falls Waterways Festival – a great success!

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

Wentworth Falls Lake Stormwater Improvements are in full swing!

Wentworth Falls Lake biofiltration system

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.

Jamison Creek Catchment: Caring for Dwarf Mountain Pine

Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii Katoomba Falls photo courtesy Ian Brown

Protecting the Wentworth Falls population of the endangered Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii  from the very invasive Montbretia was the name of the game for our Jamison Creek Catchment Care Day this year. It was well received by some keen Bushcare volunteers, BMCC Bushland Operations Team (Bushcare Officers and Bush Regeneration Officers) and the NPWS Ranger for the Jamison Valley.

Having 2 extra Bush Regeneration team members involved for the first time meant we could divide into smaller groups and cover more of the creekline as well as share information about the management of the whole area while we worked.

One group met at Wentworth Falls Car Park, walked to the top of Wentworth Falls and then worked upstream (wading where necessary) to follow up woody weeds in the area worked last year.

The other groups met at the corner of Jamison and Fletcher streets, kitted up and after a short walk down to the creek, with some walking further down the Charles Darwin Track, started target ting Montbretia around the pools and cascades and all woody weeds and the along the track and creek banks. All three groups re-united for lunch and informative talks on the creek bank.

Montbretia is slow going so although the distance covered wasn’t huge, we removed lots of corms and enjoyed the beautiful weather and surroundings while we worked. There was lots of opportunity to discuss the creek condition, learn about the endangered Dwarf Mountain Pine (Pherosphaera fistzgeraldii).

Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) corms

Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora) flowers

Another target weed in this catchment is Erica lusitanica (Spanish or Portugese heath, often referred to simply as “Erica”, a woody shrub which has a similar appearance to native tea trees so is often mistaken for a native. Both Montbretia and Erica have the potential to establish in the rocky crevices on the cliffline adjacent to the waterfalls – taking up the space where Dwarf Mountain Pine grows. Annual Catchment Care Days are a valuable contribution to the ongoing work of Council’s Bushland Operations Team, contractors and the volunteer Bushcare Groups. Charles Darwin, Jamieson St Landcare, Wentworth Falls Lake, Water Nymphs Dell and Valley of the Waters groups were all represented this year and together we not only dealt with Montbretia and Erica but as Tutsan, Japanese honeysuckle and Small-leaf Privet as well.

Jenny Hill from Council’s Healthy Waterways Team delivered a very informative talk about the issues affecting the water quality of the catchment and the work underway to improve stormwater management.

Good food, good company and good work resulted in a very enjoyable and productive morning – made possible through funding from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage “Saving Our Species” program. A huge thank you to SoS and the dedicated volunteers of Wentworth Falls!

 

Bushcare Boosters – The Birds and the Bees of Bushcare

Bushcare Volunteers! You are invited to a free workshop!

Presented by the very experienced, qualified Bushcare Boosters Trainer, Geoff Bakewell and hosted by BMCC Bushcare.

At this interactive Bushcare Boosters training  you will learn how to make your Bushcare site as fauna friendly  as possible. We will look at:

  • elements of habitat and fauna requirements
  • animal interactions
  • habitat management
  • site monitoring

The content is most suitable for volunteers who have some practical experience in the field and who wish to develop a better understanding of environmental restoration techniques. It is not aimed at volunteers who have obtained accredited training in environmental restoration, though all Blue Mountains Bushcare volunteers are welcome to attend.

Date: Sunday October 30

Time: 7:30 am – 12:30 pm We need to start early to check for animal tracks!

Brunch provided. Please advise of any special dietary requirements when you book a place.

Location: Faulconbridge SES Headquarters

7 Sir Henrys Parade, Faulconbridge and Jackson Park.

What you should bring:  hat, drinking water and notebook.  Wear comfortable clothing suitable for walking.

Bookings are essential and places are limited RSVP by Monday 24th October to Monica Nugent on 4780 5528 or mnugent@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

 

Jamison Creek Catchment Working Group

This newly formed catchment group are meeting to to explore the environmental issues impacting on the Jamison Creek ecosystems and to implement strategies to improve the overall catchment health. The group will be meeting monthly for the set up phase of the group. Meet in Blue Mountains Council Administration building foyer 2.50 pm for a 3pm start.

Contact Lachlan Garland to express your interest to come along.

 

Red-crowned Toadlet at Mt Riverview Bushcare

by Elizabeth Begg, Mt Riverview Bushcare Group

pseudophryne australis found in Mt Riverview

pseudophryne australis found in Mt Riverview (photo courtesy of E.Begg)

A couple of months ago, I moved a treated pine log that we had dragged up from our Mt Riverview Bushcare site behind our place (it had been dumped there some time ago) to re-use in a garden bed, and found a most intriguing small frog! Or so I thought. With a black body and bright orange red markings across the crown of its head and on its body, this 2cm frog was not like anything I had seen before. A quick google returned  the name of Red-crowned Toadlet. Monica quickly confirmed my thoughts. There were not many other candidates for the description small frog with black body and orange spots!

Monica’s excitement at the finding of this threatened species was infectious, and a bit more research helps us to understand why this creature is listed as vulnerable. It lives only in the Sydney basin on Hawkesbury Sandstone vegetation. This small toad needs to be near a freshwater creek – they mate in damp leaf litter, lay their eggs on the banks of the creek and are watched over by the male. The eggs hatch after heavy rainfall, when the young are well developed, and the tadpoles are washed into the creek. Such restricted habitat and specific life cycle requirements are the factors that, in a changing, disturbed environment under pressure from a rapidly changing environment threaten the viability of some of our native species.

On our next bushcare day, working in the creek bed in Magura Reserve, our youngest team member, Scott Wiezel, found some of the black taddies, already with legs, wriggling in a shallow, evaporating pond in the creek bed. He was on leech alert for us at the time. A very important job that day as we seemed to be working in a nest of them! (Though Scott’s mum, Lynn reports that she later discovered a leech in her belly button …)

The scientific name is Pseudophryne australis (Gray 1835), (Pseudo meaning similar to though not the real deal or ‘sham’; phryne meaning toad). The common name rendering of ‘toadlet’ sounds a little kinder! Our little Aussie wanna-be toad.

How did such a small creature get all the way from the creek to my back yard? Apparently they like to hide out under rocks and logs in the bush. I guess we carried it up when we brought up some of the dumped railway sleepers and treated pine logs to make our garden. Interesting isn’t it, the complexity of bush regeneration? The removal of dumped material possibly disturbed part of the habitat of this threatened species. For me it has been a gentle reminder of the care we need to have when working in the bush!

References and for more about frogs:

http://frogs.org.au/frogs/species/Pseudophryne/australis/

http://australianmuseum.net.au/red-crowned-toadlet

The Museum also has a fantastic free app to download:      http://australianmuseum.net.au/frogs-field-guide

http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Pseudophryne+australis

For an excellent though detailed fact sheet: http://fieldofmarseec.nsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/tsprofileRedcrownedToadlet.pdf

Pseudphryne australis

Pseudphryne australis (photo courtesy of E.Begg)