More than a year ago, a friendly neighbour to the Else-Mitchell Park Bushcare site kindly offered the Bushcare Group some Eucayptus deanei seedlings to raise and plant into the Reserve. The seedlings had appeared in a large pot from a very large and beautiful Eucalyptus deanei tree in the neighbour’s front garden – a remnant tree from the original forest of the area. Mike Purtell, co-ordinator and founding member of the Else-Mitchell Park Bushcare Group, agreed to raise the seedlings to a larger size for future planting.
Meeting the neighbour some time later, I suggested he join us in planting the juvenile trees back into the Reserve, which he thought was a great idea! But then I thought, having a number of plants available, why not invite all the surrounding neighbours.
So, the Bushcare Group and six neighbouring families had a very enjoyable morning planting trees in various parts of the site – each family planting a tree each. We then had a special morning tea and chat.
So the Reserve now has more trees and the local neighbours and the Bushcare Group members had a chance to catch up! With another neighbour, Mike is now trying to organise an interview with the neighbour who provided the seedlings to record the memories of living in the local area for historic reference, with particular regard to ongoing changes at Else-Mitchell Park.
5 years funding for weed controlArticle by Linda Thomas
Bushcare volunteers, form an important component of Council’s overall weed management strategy. However, there are many other interesting conservation projects that you may hear about or encounter in your local area.
Two new grants
Council has received new grants from Greater Sydney Local Land Services and the NSW Environmental Trust which will help expand our capacity to deliver target weed control, bush regeneration and stormwater control outcomes over the next five years.
Each year Council’s Environment team applies for grants where grant program targets align with Council’s core program outcomes. In this way Council is able to extend its delivery of environmental programs within the Blue Mountains and increase the value of return for a rate collected dollar. As these funding sources are dependent on broader political climates, they cannot be relied upon to deliver core Council functions, but are an effective means of building capacity when an opportunity presents itself.
Most grants have a 12-18 month time frame, so these five year grants allow for the consolidation and extension of a range of programs to help target cross tenure issues across public reserves and private lands.
Council will use these grants to:
Target Cats Claw Creeper in Springwood, Blaxland and Lapstone. This is a new priority weed which has limited distribution in the lower mountains. The aim over five years is to substantially control and eradicate all known populations of Cats Claw Creeper in our Local Government Area.
Extend ongoing programs to control Pussy Willow, Boneseed and African Olive in the mid to lower mountains.
Target bird spread weeds such as Himalayan Honeysuckle and English Holly on private properties in Mt Wilson, to protect Moist Basalt Cap Forest.
Extend bush regeneration programs in Blue Mountains Shale Cap Forest and Sun Valley Cabbage Gum Forest across Council reserves and adjoining private lands.
Monitor and trial controls for Bell Miner populations, which are linked to tree dieback in several lower mountains reserves.
Install stormwater control structures and extend weed control programs in several swamp systems in the upper mountains.
Support the Katoomba / Govetts Creek, Gordon Creek / Leura Falls Creek, and Jamison Creek catchment groups by undertaking extended weed control and rehabilitation projects on sites these groups have nominated as outstanding problems in their catchments.
Creek Restoration the natural way, with a little help from Bushcare By South Lawson Park Bushcare Group and Lawson StreamWatch
In 2010 Lawson Creek was overwhelmed by massive amounts of silt that had been transported by heavy rains from a collapsed track and building site along the Great Western Highway. A 200 metre section of healthy bushland creek was reduced to a shallow trickle of water (Image 1) and these conditions made it impossible for water insects (bugs), crayfish and tadpoles to exist.
Bushcare members alerted Council and sediment controls across sections of the creek, to try and disperse the sand were installed. Fortunately, lots of professional bush regeneration and volunteer bushcare work had been done in the area, and the surrounding natural bushland was very healthy, with a good mix of trees, shrubs and groundcovers.
This bushland served as an important restoration function. Natural debris from the trees and shrubs, such as large branches, bark, sticks and leaf litter, was constantly being deposited in the creek. It further dispersed the sand and created riffles and pools, steadily replacing the aquatic fauna habitat that had been smothered in the sand.
Amy St Lawrence, Council’s Aquatic Systems Officer, explained: “Bug recolonisation relies on having intact bug populations/communities nearby…different types of water-bugs will recolonise in different ways, providing their water quality and habitat requirements recover.”
In 2015 the StreamWatch Group recommenced water quality testing on the site, with good results. But one question remained – would the bugs come back?
Over the years more of the deposited sand was transported downstream, and by 2018 the creek was starting to resemble its former healthy condition, displaying a few deep pools, some good natural habitat of logs and other fallen timber, and a layer of decayed leaf litter along the banks and channel (Image 2).
In May, 2019, the StreamWatch volunteers tested for bug life in the water. And we got them! Mayfly nymphs, which are very sensitive to pollution, so that was pleasing, and also damselfly nymphs, dragonfly nymphs, boatmen and water treaders, and crayfish and tadpoles.
Amy explained the re-colonisation process: “Insects probably hatched at the site from eggs laid by adults that decided your pools were suitable; adults that possibly came from further downstream on Lawson Creek. Your large crayfish may have been there all along despite the sedimentation, or may have moved overland from a pool downstream or a nearby creek.”
What if there had been a wall of weeds, such as privet or blackberry, and not natural bushland, along the creek? It is quite likely that the damage may not even have been noticed, and that the weeds would have colonised most or even all of the silted creek. Bushcare makes a difference, in lots of different ways.
Sometimes it seems as though the world’s environmental problems are so large it’s overwhelming, we feel like “am I doing enough?” or “what is the point?” It seems that no matter how many reusable shopping bags we use it pales by comparison to the impact of global issues like climate change.
However, the world has come together before to solve global environmental problems, like the hole in the ozone layer. We tackled that issue globally, by coming together to develop a set of rules that eliminated the source of the problem.
You may not feel like it, but the choices you make day in and day out do add up and make a difference. You live in the Blue Mountains because you want to live near nature, go for bushwalks, be with likeminded people and enjoy a sense of community. You probably already go to the op shop instead of buying new, buy only what you need and reduce reliance on packaging. Use resuable bags or boomerang bags, you compost and you join in environmental causes and volunteer your time.
Volunteering with Bushcare brings all of those elements together. We make huge changes on the ground, over time eliminating weeds that would one day overtake our native bush reducing biodiversity and resilience. We discuss world problems (sometimes solving them), get our hands dirty and go home with a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
We are not alone in our individual efforts, thinking we are only making a small indent – we are a community of over 400 people turning up each month, equating to 1,200 hours of environmental benefit to our future. We are also part of a much larger community with over 6000 Bushcare/Landcare groups Australia wide. All of us turning up to make a difference!
On Threatened Species Day (Saturday 7th September) we had a series of talks about fauna in the Blue Mountains. The day started with Anne Carey from the Blue Mountains Fauna Project presenting the findings of the year long study.
Throughout the day there was a stall with weed and threatened species information. The eco cinema was playing a series of short films about threatened species and where they occur.
Next was the amazing Akos Lumitzer from amatterofflight.com.au who talked passionately about the powerful owl and how he came to spend so much time capturing the images.
Last but not least was Dr Beth Mott from Birdlife Australia. She presented the Powerful Owl project that is a citizen science project.
Another great reason to come along to the Threatened Species Day at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, in Katoomba (Saturday 7th, September).
View the awarding winning Powerful Owl’s nest made during a series of Waste To Art community workshops held across the Blue Mountains. The sculpture is made from waste fabrics, to highlight that Australians are buying 27kg of new clothes annually and over 20kg ends up in Blue Mountains residents’ garbage bins each year.
At the Regional Waste to Art Community Exhibition held in Oberon recently the Blue Mountains entry was awarded first prize in the Community 3D category. A fantastic result as the exhibition featured about 120 artworks, from 14 NetWaste councils, that were all made from everyday rubbish.
Waste to Art aims to encourage the whole community to rethink their own waste and promote a low waste lifestyle. By taking action to Reduce, Reuse and Repair over buying new, it saves resources like water and energy that go into manufacturing new items.
efforts do make a difference and also help threatened species like the
Powerful-Owl which is found across the Blue Mountains in old growth forests.
Another wonderful remote bushcare day in the lower mountains. Work in Sassafras Gully has been ongoing for several years in a relationship between Blue Mountains City Council and National Parks and Wildlife Services carried out on the border of Council and Parks land near where Wiggins Track meets Victory Track at Sassafras Creek.
A cool temperate rainforest in a gully bounded by drier woodland uphill, the area has Ginger Lily, Small and Large leaf Privet as well as large and mature Japanese Honeysuckle that have climbed up into the canopy. Invading from properties uphill and coming down the creek they threaten the understorey diversity of the mature Sassafras and Coachwood forest. Some of the honeysuckle were so tall they were only identifiable by their distinctive peeling bark and mottled skin because the leaves were too high in the canopy.
On the morning of 25 May three volunteers – Ian, John and Roland and myself braved fine weather (and traffic delaying truck accidents) to tool up and walk the 45 minutes into the work area. On remote days we carry a lot more gear in the form of emergency management communications gear, all the tools we will need, a larger than normal first aid kit, plenty of water, food for the day, warm clothing and, of course, morning tea in a protective container because, let’s face it, no one wants squashed cake.
Once at the work site we dropped our heavy packs, put on our tool belts then had a look around to determine who was going to work where to get maximum effect from our small team. Despite many years of high quality work, there are still patches of Ginger Lily, canopy height Privet and Japanese Honeysuckle as well lots of Privet seedlings that the team decided to focus on.
The larger Ginger Lilies were poisoned and the smaller seedlings removed to be composted while the honeysuckles and privets were also treated with herbicide. Over the course of the day we worked on an area approximately 500m2.
On the walk out we noticed several interesting things. A local spring outlet known as the leaf spring, where a groove had been carved underneath a spring seep point to allow a leaf to be placed into it so a water bottle could be filled.
The remote area bushcare days are fantastic events where we get to enjoy undertaking bushcare activities much deeper in the bush. Future events will be held in Popes Glen and Katoomba Creek in spring.
GORILLAS IN THE SWAMP (G.I.T.S.) are a dedicated group of Swamp-carers whom have been heroically spending their own time to fight back the weeds and take care of the invaluable and endangered ecological area that is Valley View Swamp in Blackheath.
There have been numerous Swampcare events at Valley View Swamp in the past which have made marked improvements in the health and condition of the site. Even with these accomplishments, we have recognised that the challenges facing us require a bolstered approach and a monthly meet-up in order to revamp the regeneration of the natural environment here.
WHY ARE SWAMPS SO IMPORTANT? – Blue Mountains Swamps are biologically diverse plant communities that occur nowhere else in the world. The swamps provide crucial habitat to a number of Threatened Species including the Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) and the Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea). These swamps also play a vital role in maintaining the water flows in the area’s creeks, waterfalls and ground-water by capturing and storing rainwater and then slowly releasing it over time. Swamps act as filters, purifying water prior to its release into the natural environment downstream. Blue Mountains Swamps are coming under ever increasing pressure and are very susceptible due to the edge effects of urbanization and urban runoff.
PLANNED NEW MANAGEMENT STRATEGY – Big plans are in store for Valley View Swamp with a new management strategy nearing completion. The stormwater issues will be addressed with the construction of sandstone water-retention basins, sediment settling ponds, bio-filtration systems and rock lined channel. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, these storm-water control structures provide the benefits of improving water quality, reducing sedimentation in the swamp, rehydrating ground water and creating habitat. We are looking forward to observe and document the progress throughout the works of this project. Of course, we will continue to remove and control the invasive species on the site and encourage native revegetation too.
GORILLA IN THE SWAMPS (G.I.T.S.) – Valley View Swamp, Blackheath
When: 2nd Thursday of the month 9:30am -12:30pm
Where: Meeting on the corner of Valley View Rd and Hargraves St, Blackheath
What to bring: Please wear weather appropriate clothing which you don’t mind getting dirty, sturdy footwear and gumboots if it’s wet. A hat, sunscreen, plenty of water and something for morning tea. Tools and gloves are provided.
With the success of the Holly Walk, the Woody Weed Wander and Woody Weed Workout Events, the Woody Weed Wander Bushcare Group was recently established. This Group will operate similarly to other Bushcare Groups, but will “wander” to various sites, removing/treating stands of mature/semi-mature woody weeds of all species. We will initially work in the Upper Mountains, with some sites already confirmed or on offer, but there may be the option to work in various parts of the Mountains in the future.
We will be meeting on the first Friday of the month from 9.00 am to 12.00 noon, including morning tea. Our first work session will begin on Friday, 6 September at Blackheath.
If you are interested to be involved or have any queries, please contact Karen Hising at firstname.lastname@example.org or 4780 5623.
Garguree Swampcare and Fairmont Resort crew working together.
Council always encourages community and corporate participation in our bushcare days. This June, in recognition of NAIDOC 2019, the Fairmont Resort & Spa’s General Manager, Scott O’Neile, team members and their families joined in the monthly Garguree Swampcare Group. This group is collaboratively driven by Garguree Traditional owners and BMCC to regenerate The Gully, Katoomba. The Gully is a sacred Aboriginal Place that holds both happy and sad memories for our local indigenous community.
Jane, Bushcare Officer for Garguree, rallied the 40 plus combined volunteer group. With introductory words of encouragement and warm up exercises everyone was in the mood for hand weeding Blue Periwinkle (Vinca major) along the swamp edge and mulching adjacent to Middle Swamp. Many hands certainly made great inroads reducing the Vinca.
The group was moved by the smoking ceremony and listening to Aunty Sharyn’s vision for the future, all whilst sharing wholesome Kingy Chai, refreshing Lemon Myrtle Tea and the scrumptious Lilly Pilly jam with damper. The Fairmont team found it a true honour to be present in the Gully with the Local Gully Traditional Owners, Aunty Sharyn and David King. A member of the team expressed it as “a truly priceless and spiritual cultural exchange”.