Recovering Our Backyard: Mini-Expo February 29

An event organised by Blue Mountains Recovery Wellbeing Committee, Blue ARC, and Resilience & Preparedness Group.

Many residents of the Blue Mountains region are concerned about the impacts of the bushfires on our natural environment and National Park and people need to feel that they can be involved in recovery efforts in a meaningful way.

On Saturday 29 February, Blackheath – a mini-expo is being run in the afternoon to help guide residents on how they can assist the regeneration of our natural environment.

The afternoon will include talks from wildlife experts and a Council representative, there will be tables set up with representatives from local groups and organisations providing information, and opportunities to volunteer.

Date and Time: Saturday, February 29, 2020, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Location: Phillips Hall, Blackheath Community Centre – Gardiner Crescent, Blackheath, NSW

To register click on this link below

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/recovering-our-backyard-tickets-94508644901?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=esfb&utm-source=fb&utm-term=listing&fbclid=IwAR035-kBGPiWw2BNtWXjJOSEP3XuO34GbMOA96yYraI2pDeMaaGunY3buU8

Post Fire Fungi

Article by Liz Kabanoff – Fungi… Bushcare volunteer

As a result of fire, soils become more alkaline and the heat of the fire sterilises the soil, allowing a suite of fungi to emerge. These fungi have important roles in the landscape, including erosion prevention, forming mycorrhizal relationships with plants, food for animals and invertebrates and the breakdown and recycling of nutrients from wood and other dead plant material. Below are a few of the fire-loving fungi that were found recently at Blackheath.

Pyronema omphalodes: Pyronema is one of the first genera of fungi to colonise soil after bushfires and tends to be found in areas where the fires burned hottest. Large mats of this fungus with visible mycelium form on burnt soil (and other sterilised sites such as burnt bark) and help prevent erosion. Top photo, Blackheath, Feb 2020. Bottom photo, Fairy Dell Springwood, post-2018 hazard reduction burn, showing a network of mycelium over the soil.

Nothocastoreum cretaceum is a truffle-like fungus that is found partially buried in soil and resembles small stones. When mature the fruitbodies spilt open to release their spores. Mature fungi are approximately 25mm diameter. Blackheath, Feb 2020.

Anthracobia muelleri is a tiny disc fungus. Each disc is only a few mm in diameter. The edges are adorned with small hairs. Colonies of Anthracobia appear on burnt ground after bushfires and can also be found on the site of old campfires. Blackheath, Feb 2020.

Cortinarius sublargus can grow to around 20cm in diameter across the cap. The stipe (stem) is mostly buried in the soil, sometimes to a depth of 20cm. Cortinarius is one of the largest genera of fungi worldwide. Species in this genus form mycorrhizal relationships with trees. Large clumps of this species were found at Blackheath in Feb 2020, a few weeks after the bushfire.

Watching for weeds after bush fires

Taking care of your bushland after a fire

Bush fires create conditions that favour the establishment of weeds, which can prevent native plants and desirable garden plants from re-establishing and thriving.

After a bush fire, it’s important to manage weed growth in bushland on your property. Council can provide technical advice and support to help you manage weeds on your property, during the clean-up and rebuilding process. Contact our Community Conservation Officer, Linda Thomas on 4780 5612 or at lthomas@bmcc.nsw.gov.au for more information.

More information about weeds in your area is available online: weedsbluemountains.org.au

Why is controlling weeds important?

Weeds spread easily and have a negative impact on native plants and wildlife. It’s important to control them as soon as possible, to prevent them from spreading to neighbouring properties and native bushland.

While many native plant species and desirable garden plants survive bush fires, their ability to re-establish, thrive, and reseed is reduced by the presence of weeds that aggressively compete for water, light, and soil nutrients.

The cleared post-bush fire landscape is also an opportunity to control weeds while they are visible and before they start to spread.

It is very important to remember to leave burnt areas alone for the first 3-6 months to allow the soil  to recover and seedlings to establish. At the early stages any vegetation cover, including weeds , is protecting soil from erosion and protecting native seedlings. After that we need to assess areas for weed control and timing to target ecosystem transformers before seed set, but limiting trampling as much as possible while bushland is still fragile. Over enthusiastic weed control can also cause damage post fire.

Scotch broom invading recently burnt bushland
Weeds such as Scotch Broom will quickly spread into burnt areas if not controlled. Photo: Council

Native Plants

Native vegetation may take several years to recover after bush fire and will change in composition over time.

Australian native plants are adapted to recover after bush fire but it can take some time before your local bushland looks like the healthy vegetation community it was before the fire.

Within weeks of a fire some trees and grasses will start to resprout. Over the next few years most of the original shrubs and trees will regrow from existing rootstock or from seeds stored in the soil.

For at least the first few months post-fire it is best to just observe the recovery process and allow the bushland to regenerate itself.

In some situations, where natural regeneration is not progressing well, the planting of native vegetation or direct seeding may be required to stabilise soils and assist with the natural process of regeneration. If you are planting in recovering bushland, you should only use native plants grown locally, and use locally collected seeds to maintain the integrity of the bushland.

Find this Fact Sheet on Council’s website https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/documents/watching-for-weeds-and-taking-care-of-your-bushland-after-a-fire

Other Interesting Articles https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2020/01/to-help-the-bushfire-recovery-pull-out-weeds/

Council’s Seniors Festival Program

NSW Seniors Festival (formerly Seniors Week) is the largest festival for seniors in the Southern Hemisphere. To acknowledge the remarkable contributions our local seniors make to our Blue Mountains community, a program of events for the month of February has been put together. The theme for 2020 focuses on ‘Love To Celebrate’.

The Seniors Festival Program for 2020 offers a range of activities from 3 February to 19 March.

Loads of activities are on offer among the vast program including health and exercise activites, bushwalking, art, music, puzzles and games, senior driving workshops, talks on various plants and animals or gatherings where perhaps you encourage a friend to come along.

Where to find the Seniors Festival Program

Award Winning – Jamison Creek Catchment Biofilters

Blue Mountains City Council was awarded Overall Winner in the Natural Environment Protection and Enhancement: On-Ground Works category at the Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Excellence in the Environment Awards on Tuesday 3 December.

Photo: Healthy Waterways Program Leader Geoffrey Smith (left) accepts the award on behalf of Blue Mountains City Council.

Council was recognised for the Jamison Catchment Streets to Creeks project. The project worked to protect Wentworth Falls Lake and Jamison Creek from stormwater pollution and other threats posed by urban runoff. It also improved the health of swamps and waterways in Wentworth Falls as well as downstream in the World Heritage Area, and drinking water supplies.

“The vulnerability of Jamison Creek to stormwater impacts was highlighted when a stormwater-borne pesticide killed over a thousand of the creek’s freshwater crayfish, literally overnight,” Mayor Greenhill said.

“In response to this tragedy, several Council departments came together to respond to that situation and then work to ensure it never happened again. It is a testament to their passion, determination and ingenuity, and it makes me very proud to be the Mayor of this Council and its staff.”

“As one of only two cities in the world located within a World Heritage National Park, our environment is unique and its importance can never be understated or taken for granted. This award confirms what I and our community already know, that Blue Mountains City Council is second to none in this arena”.

Council constructed 12 stormwater biofiltration systems throughout the catchment, removing pollutants such as litter, sediment, nutrients and pathogens and increasing groundwater recharge. Biofilters improve water quality by slowing, filtering and infiltrating stormwater through beds of sand and gravel planted with native sedges and shrubs.

Canberra Street bio filter at Wentworth Falls Lake Photo: Council

The project involved Council’s Natural Area Management, Healthy Waterways and Civil Assets teams and employed a range of local contractors in the construction of stormwater treatment systems and the delivery of community and school events.

Local residents, schools and Bushcare groups also contributed to the project by taking part in Waterways festivals, catchment crawls, planting and weeding days and citizen science events.

Lachlan Garland – coordinator of the Jamison Creek Catchment Community Group stated “The Catchment Group congratulates all those involved in the extensive work that resulted in this award. Such an award highlights the Catchment and what is so special about it. The Catchment Group and associated Bushcare Groups look forward to working to improve the Catchment even further, so it becomes an example of what can be done with hard work and persistence.”

Jamison Creek Catchment Community Group planting day around Wilson Park bio filter. Photo: Council

Council’s Natural Area Operations Team also became involved with the bio filter systems post-construction largely following heavy rains when there’s a chance to check the functionality and structural integrity of the system – they could identify any maintenance issue and remove vegetation / debris blocking the water flow through the system as well as monitoring the system for any erosion or integrity failures.  In-planting of native vegetation and hand weeding also formed part of their role.

Preliminary monitoring shows the treatment systems are improving the quality of stormwater flowing to the lake and Jamison Creek, and surveys have found healthy, breeding crayfish populations that are recovering well from the 2012 pesticide incident.

Eric Mahony (BMCC Natural Area Management Program Leader) and Geoffrey Smith (BMCC Healthy Waterways Program Leader) assessing the function of the Central Park bio filter following heavy rains Photo: Council

Bush Fire Recovery Donations

Here are several ways to help in the support and recovery of our people and our natural communities affected by the recent bush fires. A few funds are listed blow….

Blue Mountains Bush Fire Mayoral Relief Fund

A Blue Mountains Bush Fire Mayoral Relief Fund has been created, to help Blue Mountains communities affected by recent bush fires to recover and rebuild. This registered fund allows the community to assist our local residents in their time of need. To read more or make a donation….. https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/media-centre/blue-mountains-bush-fire-mayoral-relief-fund-to-help-road-to-recovery

Red Cross Diaster and Relief Recovery Funds

https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-donate

Salvation Army – Donate to the Diaster Appeal

https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-donate

Support your Local Bush Fire Brigade

Rural Fire Brigades are often more than just an emergency service. They can also be a vital community service, provide a community meeting point or offer assistance with non-emergency roles. For this reason, many people choose to donate to their local Rural Fire Brigade. To read more or make a donation http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade

WIRES Bush Fire Emergency Fund

During the catastrophic fires over 4 million hectares of land has been destroyed and dozens of fires are still burning. In December alone WIRES 1300 line (Wildlfie Rescue 1300 094 737)received over 20,000 calls and volunteers attended over 3,300 rescues. WIRES is calling for your assistance to help rescue wildlife. To read more or make a donation…… https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund

RSPCA Bush Fire Appeal

With fires ravaging the state, animals are at their most vulnerable. Please donate to our bushfire appeal to help protect them. To read more or make a donation…… https://www.nswrspca.org.au/bushfire-appeal

Animal Rescue Collective (ARC)

Welcome to Animal Rescue Collective and Fire/emergency support. This is a joint project of many rescue groups around Australia and is a registered business name os part of the MKC.

*** 24/12 XMAS Eve.  Blue Mountains is in flames.  Supply drops continue to Lithgow, Bathurst, Colo, Braidwood, emergency runs of 1 tonne each in Pellets, Water, Materials.. To read more or make a donation…… https://mkc.org.au/donations/trcqld

Secret Creek Sanctuary (Lithgow)

The local Secret creek Santuary near Lithgow sustained significant damage from the Mount Gosper fire when it came through our area on Saturday 21st December. The Sanctuary was set up to provide a feral proof enclosure where endangered native species are protected from predation. The Sanctuary aims to show visitors what Australia used to look like prior to European settlement with most species previously endemic to the area.

There is a need to do repairs (water supply, fences, fallen trees) to enable the Sanctuary to continue to house rescued wildlife that are vistims of this ongoing devastation.

If you would like to support by volunteering your time please message the Sanctuary/AEFI; Australian Ecosystems Foundation

Or if you have funds to donate, you can do so here: https://give.everydayhero.com/…/secret-creek-sanctuary-fire…

OUR LOCAL WILDLIFE NEED YOUR HELP!!

We have posted this on the Blue Mountains City Council Facebook. If you know any other person or organistation intereseted in helping to save wildlife – please pass this onto them.

Mammals, birds and reptiles are needing your help to survive!! The ongoing extreme bush wildfire event around the Blue Mountains and across the State has had a devastating impact on our forests and vegetation resulting in major loss or destruction of fauna habitats, refuges and their food source. Many creeks are dry and normal water supply sources are very low. Animals are under considerable stress and under these conditions there is often much displacement.

Actions you as residents and bushcare volunteers can do to provide a safe refuge for native fauna around your homes

  • Provide drinking water for all types of animals, birds and reptiles.
    • Birds – A range of shallow curved-floored bowls and bird baths can be used by both large and small birds and animals. Keep in a shady but open area and where possible place near a shrub to provide refuge.
    • Terrestrial animals– Many terrestrial animals may need to drink including reptiles, echidnas and bandicoots.  Poultry drinkers are better than open dishes for terrestrial animals and arboreal mammals.
    • Arboreal mammals – Some species such as the Greater Glider and Ringtail Possum receive adequate water from their diet, but supplementary water can be provided by securing a Poultry Drinker in branches of trees using ropes and ladders.
  • Things to think about
    • Be aware of predators – keep pets (cats and dogs) away and raise water on a pedestal to limit predation.
    • Reduce risk of drowning by animals – avoid deep dishes that limit access in and out
    • Avoid using metal bowls that heat up in the sun.
    • Place water and refuges near trees and shrubs
    • Keep water clean and refilled
    • Provide shade and safe refuge where possible – rocks, logs, pipes and man-made structures.
    • Suggestion – keep your cats and dogs inside

Council Christmas / New Year Closures 2019/2020

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Bushcare Team!

The Council Offices will be closing from 12pm Tuesday 24th December and reopening Thursday 2nd January 2002 with only essential services being provided during this period.

Details on the arrangements for specific Council services, such as libraries, waste services, leisure and information centres, are as follows:

  • Blue Mountains Cultural Centre – Open every day except Christmas Day (on all public holidays the Cultural Centre will be open 10am to 2pm and the cafe will be closed).
  • Blue Mountains Theatre & Community Hub will be closed from Saturday 21 December and re-open on Thursday 2 January 2020.
  • Blue Mountains Libraries – Closed from midday on Tuesday 24 December and will reopen normal hours on Thursday 2 January 2020.
  • Customer Service Counters (Katoomba and Springwood) and Service NSW Agency Katoomba – Closed from midday on Tuesday 24 December and will reopen normal hours on Thursday 2 January 2020.
  • Leisure Centres will be closed on Christmas Day and will close at 5.00pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (on all public holidays the centres operate 8:00am – 6:00pm, except for Blackheath Pool that continues with standard operating hours on public holidays). 
  • Waste Management Facilities – Open every day except Christmas Day, the facility at Blaxland will open to accept the Domestic Waste Vehicles only.
  • Waste Collection Services will continue everyday including Christmas Day.
  • Visitor Information Centres – Open every day except Christmas Day

Citizen Science – SoS Frog Conservation

A research team from the University of Newcastle recently met with Council staff and other ecologists to introduce a new citizen science project and gave a presentation highlighting the threat and decline of amphibians both locally and worldwide. Although a common key threat is habitat degradation, declines are also occurring in pristine habitats such as the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (i.e. no recent recordings) and the proximate cause of decline is unknown.

The team will establish a research-based project that combines targeted scientific surveys with citizen science to survey known locations of several threatened frog species in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, and identify the mechanisms that are reducing their abundance. Understanding the cause of any population decline is imperative for creating conservation measures that will effectively protect species – particularly in conserved habitats.

The target frog species for the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area are Mixophyes balbus (Stuttering Frog), Litoria littlejohni (Littlejohn’s Tree Frog) and Heleioporus australiacus (Giant Burrowing Frog). Littlejohn’s Tree Frog is known to live around heathland environments while the Giant Burrowing Frog lives near small streams with their breeding habitat in soaks or pools within first or second order streams.

This project offers excellent collaboration potential with research groups, several Council’s groups (Bushcare, Natural Areas and the Healthy Waterways Teams), plus other organisations such as National Parks and Wildlife Service, and other interested individuals and groups.

In the future there will be calls for citizen scientists to help monitor audio monitors, change the batteries every 2-3 months and the potential to learn how to identify the frog calls. If you are interested in this project or willing to monitor the sites please advise the Bushcare Team on bushcare@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

Audio Moth to monitor frog calls Photo: Council

In the future there will be calls for citizen scientists to help monitor audio monitors, change the batteries every 2-3 months and the potential to learn how to identify the frog calls. If you are interested in this project or willing to monitor the sites please advise the Bushcare Team on bushcare@bmcc.nsw.gov.au