Category Archives: General

Environmental Citizen Award

Congratulations to Margaret Baker for winning the inaugural Environmental Citizen of the Year Award by the Blue Mountains City Council. Margaret has been a tireless, committed and passionate advocate for protecting the Blue Mountains environment for over four decades. Giving her time as both a professional and a volunteer, Margaret has shown outstanding commitment to, and excellence in, education, life-long learning and the promotion of the natural environment.

Margaret has contributed to environmental education and advocacy over many years which has made an invaluable contributuion to the Blue Mountains community.

To read the full award go to https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/media-centre/bluemountains-citizens-celebrated-at-australia-day-awards

Margaret considers that her greatest contribution as an environmental citizen has been the education of many students in the TAFE system over a number of generations and courses.

When Margaret began at TAFE in late 1983, she was present at the launch of the Advanced Certificate in Outdoor Guiding and moved on to teach and manage Bush Regeneration, the Diploma in Natural Resource Management and Certificates in Conservation and Land Management. In just ten years employment in environmental areas in the Blue Mountains went from almost none to a new industry sector. Staff involved in training increased from legendary co-ordinator Jim Smith, with Margaret as a part-time staffer working out of a shoebox office, to a whole Environmental Studies Unit, with Margaret as its first Head Teacher.

Margaret said she “would want her Award to be dedicated to the many enthusiastic and visionary students who enriched her days and moved on to become paid and volunteer members of a now burgeoning environmental industry in the region and beyond.”

Bushcare Officer Monica Nugent, previous student and a participant in many of Margaret’s courses and field trips over the years reiterated these sentiments, stating “The legacy of Margaret’s meticulous, high standard of teaching and intellectual rigour is a generation of professional bush regenerators and Bushcare volunteers with the highest level plant identification skills, a deep understanding of the Blue Mountains landscape and appreciation for its value. By capably and willingly sharing her expert knowledge of the geology, botany, natural and human history of the Blue Mountains, Margaret has instilled a great joy for the flora and fauna and an enduring passion to care for it.”

Council Seniors’ Week Awards

Two long-term enthusiastic volunteers recently received Seniors’ Week Recognition Awards.

Michael Purtell

Mike is a founding and ongoing member of the Else-Mitchell Park (1993) and the Deanei Forest (1994) Bushcare Groups and in the past, the St Columba’s Catholic College Landcare Group. He is a long-term advocate for a range of environmental and conservation issues, as an individual and with the Blue Mountains Conservation Society.

Mike is a long-term and founding member (1996) and Co-Ordinator since 2011 of the Gang-Gang Bush Band, voluntarily providing music for family gatherings, local events, groups and communities. He also provided music for many years to his local church and is involved in local Blue Mountains bands and orchestras.

He is organising a bushdance to raise funds for the RFS/BMCC Mayoral BMR Fund for local people affected by the bushfires. Mike is enthusiastic, kind, caring and always willing to help.

Lachlan Garland

Lachlan is a long-term volunteer in a number of Council/NPWS Bushcare Groups; Coates Park, Charles Darwin Walk, Central Park, Everglades, Braseside and Valley of the Waters. He was the Co-Ordinator/member of the Summerhayes Park Bushcare Group. Over the years, he has also regularly attended many Swampcare work sessions and other Council/NPWS Bushcare Events.

Lachlan is the Co-Ordinator of the Jamison Creek Catchment Group. He is a committed long-term member of the Bushcare Network. Lachlan was a member of the NPWS Regional Advisory Committee for NPWS Association for several years. He was president of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, for 2.5 years, as well as Membership Secretary for a number of years and, most recently, National Parks Officer.

He is also involved with the Land-Use Sub-Committee. Lachlan is passionate about the environment and has, for many years been involved in a range of environmental initiatives and general advocacy; as an individual and with other groups within the Blue Mountains and beyond.Lachlan is a long-term volunteer in a number of Council/NPWS Bushcare Groups; Coates Park, Charles Darwin Walk, Central Park, Everglades, Braseside and Valley of the Waters. He was the Co-Ordinator/member of the Summerhayes Park Bushcare Group.

All creatures great and small recorded in the Blue Mountains Fauna Project Inventory

A research and citizen science project that catalogued fauna species within the Blue Mountains, has now been published online.

The Blue Mountains Fauna Project Inventory was celebrated on 26 February, at a launch event that included informative talks by Anne Carey of Applied Ecology and Alex Callen from the University of Newcastle.

Over 16 months data was collected from publicly available records, from special interest groups such as WIRES and the Australian Herpetological Society, as well as from Blue Mountains residents for the project.

Blue Mountains Fauna Inventory is now online (see details below).

For this inaugural version, the project collated over 300,000 fauna records from the community and fauna databases to create the first inventory of fauna in the Blue Mountains LGA.

Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill said: “This inventory demonstrates the incredible array of animals we share our home with, and reflects what a privilege it is to live in a city within a World Heritage Area. People come from all over the world to experience our wilderness, our animals and our precious biodiversity.”

Residents were asked to record animal sightings through an interactive map on Council’s Have Your Say website. There, community members were invited to drop pins on the map with details of fauna sighted. Photos and video could also be uploaded, if the resident had filmed the animal. Community members also contributed via the project’s Facebook page. If this all sounds very contemporary, Researchers compiling the inventory also researched historical records including the writings of early European explorers. 

The Inventory has revealed a spectacular menagerie of furred, feathered and scaled friends we share our Mountains home with. More than 450 different species, including 51 threatened species, were recorded within the Blue Mountains local government area. Notable resident sightings include the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater spotted in a Springwood backyard and a micro bat found in leaf litter by someone cleaning out their gutters.

One of the 453 pages in the Fauna Inventory showing the Spotted-tail Quoll – includes description on habitat, feeding, breeding; a map showing locailty in the blue Mountains, record sightings and status.

This inventory is an extremely useful resource both now and into the future, as it gives us a benchmark to measure whether we are succeeding in supporting our biodiversity or failing our wildlife.

After the prolonged drought, unprecedented bush fires and flooding natural disaster this Inventory reminds us of both how vibrant, and how fragile our local environment is, and what is at stake if we fail to protect it and these animals.

Anne Carey from Applied Ecology, who produced the Blue Mountains Fauna Project Inventory Report, presented an engaging talk on the species listed in the Inventory and where in the Blue Mountains you are likely to find them. Alex Callan, of Newcastle University, talked about a frog conservation citizen science project and encouraged all present to help fight the decline of Blue Mountains frog species.

“The word has got around”. Costa Georgiadis was filming Gardening Australia at the The Gully where he endorsed the Blue Mountains Fauna Inventory Photo: Sandy Benson

The Blue Mountains Fauna Project is a joint partnership between the Blue Mountains Bushcare Network and Blue Mountains City Council, with grant funding from the Greater Sydney Local Land Services. Thanks to the efforts from the Bushcare team for running the fauna project program, in particular Tanya Mein for setting the project up – conducting the fauna surveys over the mountains.

The fauna inventory enables us to learn more about what wildlife is in our local bushland and how you can help both as a conservation volunteer and an landholder. If you would like to know how to help our wildlife then contact Bushcare. https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/join-bushcare/

You can download the Blue Mountains Fauna Project Inventory on Council’s Native Animals webpage. on https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/bushland-management/native-animals

Turtle Island launch at Glenbrook Lagoon

A floating, eco habitat designed to provide a safe nesting place for turtles at Glenbrook Lagoon was launched on 10 March.

Turtle Island – a collaboration between Council, Western Sydney University and Blue Mountains volunteers – was a pilot project funded by the NSW Premiers Office and Council.

“This pilot project has already seen much success, with turtle eggs discovered recently,” Mayor Mark Greenhill said.

“Glenbrook Lagoon is home to a number of turtle species, including Eastern Long-neck and Sydney Basin turtles. Turtles have been facing an uncertain future, as foxes destroy 95 per cent of their nests, but the island is providing a refuge.”

Leading expert in turtles Western Sydney University’s Dr Ricky Spencer, whom inspired Geoffrey Smith (Healthy Waterways Program Leader) and Nathan Summers (Bushcare Officer) to design and construct this project, attended the launch along with Council staff, Bushcare volunteers and school students from St Finbar’s Primary School and Glenbrook Primary School.

Turtle expert Dr Ricky Spencer (UWS) and Geoffrey Smith (Council’s Healthy Waterways Team) sharing interesting turtle facts with students from Glenbrook Primary School and St Finbars Primary. Photo: Council

Local primary students have been involved in environmental studies at Glenbrook Lagoon, including Council Bioblitz events, and Turtle studies.

Emma Kennedy (Council’s Environmental Education Officer) instructing primary school children how to prepare the Carex plants for transplanting onto the island.

Glenbrook Lagoon is a haven for remnant bushland, it’s an active Bushcare site and a valued recreation point for the community.

The well-being of the Lagoon has always been important to the community. The Glenbrook Lagoon Society started in 1978 and Bushcare volunteers began working here around 1993, making it one of the earliest community driven Bushcare groups in the Blue Mountains.

Nathan Summers – Bushcare Officer (second from the right) with the volunteers from Glenbrook Lagoon Bushcare Group and Kodala Lane. Photo: Council

Council has an ongoing commitment to restore the ecological condition of Glenbrook Lagoon and the lagoon is now free from major infestations of water weeds such as Salvinia and Cabomba which plagued it for many years.

Turtles play an important role in the ecosystem at the lagoon, acting like vacuum cleaners of the water body.

“The Lagoon is rich with wildlife – native fish, eels, frogs and a remarkable array of birdlife,” Mayor Greenhill said.

Turtle Warriors – Sandy Benson (Bushcare Team Leader), Mayor Cr Mark Greenhill and Nathan Summers (Bushcare Officer) doing their part to provide turtle refuges away from fox predation Photo: Council

Water quality in the lagoon is closely monitored by Council and officers have put incredible effort into addressing all sources of pollution within the catchment.

Turtle habitats, a predesigned structure that includes plastic tubing, aquatic plants, sands and geotextile, are being installed at locations throughout NSW.

Finally, the Council’s Bushcare and Natural Area Operations Teams taking the island habitat to it’s permanent location in Glenbrook Lagoon – providing the turtles a refuge away from fox predation. Photo: Council

VEIW turtle expert Dr Ricky Spencer talking about the Turtle Island Habitat on Blue Mountains City Council Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bluemountainscitycouncil/videos/vb.175066762601689/2734772646614369/?type=2&theater

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.

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