Council’s priority is always the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and community.
Due to Coronavirus COVID-19, Council has decided to place a temporary suspension on the Bushcare program. This will mean that no Bushcare groups, individual activity or events will take place. This is effective immediately (18 March 2020), until further notice.
Council will continue to take advice from the State and Federal health departments, which will inform our organisational position and response to this unprecedented risk.
Ongoing reviews will take place during this temporary suspension period and further advice will be provided as it comes to hand. Council thanks you for your continuing support of the Bushcare program.
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.
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.
We hope you have had a wonderful holiday season! Now, it is January and that time when many of us reassess our busy lives and think about what we want to accomplish or do to balance our lives during the next year. With that in mind, here’s to peaceful days on your Bushcare sites with friends.
Here’s hoping that time off over the holiday season has not had too much impact on your Bushcare site. It is inevitable that with the recent storms and heat across the Blue Mountains that your patch may have undergone significant changes while you were gone.
Bushcarers are doing people and would just love to get in there and get the site cleaned up straight away. Stay safe in the hot weather by taking a few precautions:
Schedule your workday by weeding in shaded areas
Take regular breaks
Drink lots of water
Wear light and loose-fitting clothing
Pace yourself and rest when you need to
Keep an eye on each other for signs of heat exhaustion
We have a fun filled program planned for Blue Mountains Bushcare this year. It is different to previous years with new training courses and workshops in that you will be taking part in to enhance your knowledge of your site and the surrounding catchment, so keep an eye out for these on the Bushcare Website, Gecko and Bulletin.
Looking forward to catching up with you all over the year ahead.
This research may be of interest to Bushcare Groups that have worked their patch for over 10 years.
See details below on how to participate: The Department of the Environment and Energy, together with the CSIRO are undertaking an investigation to understand how Australia’s biodiversity has been changing in recent years. As a part of this investigation we are seeking to understand how the 1°C increase in surface temperature experienced over the past century may have contributed to recent changes in biodiversity across the Australian landscape.
To this end we are very interested in hearing about the experiences and observations of people who are familiar with different parts of Australia. We hope that their insights and stories will provide us with a unique view of how things are changing. 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 can be found here<https://csirolandandwater.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_dcjRc0gqVUMKeiN> and is made up of a series of observational questions and an open section for people to tell us their stories. It would take about 30 minutes. Additional information about the project can be found here<https://research.csiro.au/biodiversity-knowledge/projects/recent-history-climate-driven-ecological-change-australia/>”.
Last year marked 20 years for this stalwart group of volunteers and they have successfully confronted just about every issue a Bushcare group can face – not just weeds but serious erosion and the ongoing impacts of urban development. To celebrate this achievement the film Blue Mountains Bushcare: South Lawson Park has been produced by Peter Ardill and Vera Hong. Directed by Vera Hong (Seconds Minutes Hours Productions) the film examines bushland values, the ongoing threats that urban bushland faces and how the bushcare group has managed these challenges. The film contains some beautifully filmed scenes of the Lawson Creek catchment and is available for viewing at https://vimeo.com/verahong/south-lawson-bushcare Thanks to Greater Sydney Local Land Services, the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and Blue Mountains City Council for project support and funding.
The South Lawson Group first started in mid-1995 with the then only Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare officer, Virginia Bear. Our aim was to regenerate and maintain the health of the upper catchment of Lawson Creek, which flows into Bedford Creek and the Nepean River.
The early years were spent mostly at the top of the Waratah St/Honour Ave section of the reserve (see map below) where Japanese honeysuckle, Privet, Montbretia, Blackberry and Broom were major invasive weeds. Some seed collecting, planting and track work were done, the latter with help from TAFE students under the guidance of a Bushcare Officer/TAFE teacher.
We expanded our weeding to the creekline and over the years to the surrounds of the BMX track and soccer field. In more recent times we have been extending the riparian buffer zone along the creek and swamp of the former golf course area by planting and allowing the bush to regenerate naturally. Some of us are also actively involved in Streamwatch and this process has been both informative and complementary for our Bushcare work.
Extending the buffer to the riparian corridor by planting with local natives.
The main vegetation communities along the creek are Eucalyptus woodland, Blue Mountains Swamp and a riparian strip of assorted native plant species, including rainforest species. The threatened species Persoonia acerosa and the endemic species Acacia ptychoclada are also present.
Our group is very committed and we are fortunate to have a few bush regeneration practitioners amongst us. Our website is also worth a look at: http://southlawsonpark.bushcarebluemountains.org.au It has some interesting photos and excellent educational material.
Greater Sydney Regional Weed Committee is very keen to hear from as many people as possible on the plan so we hope you can make one of the information sessions.
INVITATION TO A PUBLIC CONSULTATION FORUM on the Draft Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan
The draft Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plan (GSRSWMP) will be released for public consultation on 8 February 2017. The plan has been developed as part of the NSW Government’s Biosecurity reform process in response to the Natural Resources Commission’s review which identified the need for a more coordinated approach to managing weeds.
It is estimated weeds cost the NSW agricultural industry about $4.3 billion every year. Weeds also have serious implications on our lifestyles and the natural environment. Native biodiversity in particular has suffered declines in the distribution of many species as a result of invasive plants.
The GSRSWMP will provide the framework for improved management of weeds on both public and private lands by guiding investment to achieve the greatest outcomes in prevention, eradication and containment.
The draft plan was developed by the Greater Sydney Regional Weed Committee in partnership with Local Control Authorities (i.e. local governments), NSW Department of Primary Industries, National Parks and Wildlife Service, environmental interests (i.e. Nature Conservation Council), Landcare, NSW Farmers Association, Nursery and Garden Industry Association and Aboriginal and public land managers.
The Plan will now be made available for public consultation for feedback before being finalised. As part of the consultation process, Greater Sydney Local Land Services and the four subregional weed committees will host five public forums across the region. The purpose of the forums is to explain the contents and impacts of the draft plan, respond to questions and assist anyone who is considering commenting on the draft plan.
A Forum will be held in Penrith at the Cambridge Park Community Hall 97 Oxford St Cambridge Park on Tuesday 7 February from 5pm -7pm.
This year BMCC sponsored 2 one-day workshops for Bushcare. Bushcare Boosters is a three-part course which was designed by the Sydney Metro CMA, Volunteers Co-ordinators Network in conjunction with the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators and several local councils.
We’re aiming to ensure that our community conservation program volunteers are up to date with the current best practices in Bushcare and the opportunity to develop the highest standards possible—the ones we are used to!
To that end, we decided to hire an expert trainer, Geoff Bakewell, who is very experienced in Bushcare and is certified to teach the Bushcare Boosters program, a combination of classroom and field based learning. Geoff has worked as a Bushcare Officer and has delivered Bushcare Boosters to Bushcare volunteers for both local and state government.
So far, we have covered two of the three modules. Module 1, “Bushcare and the Big Picture” looked at the history of Bushcare, the values, problems, plants and animals present on Bushcare sites and the development of site strategies. It was held at South Lawson Park, a good example of a site with many values and complex issues to keep its Bushcare volunteers busy.
Module 2, “The Birds and the Bees of Bushcare” was at another long-term Bushcare site: Jackson Park, Faulconbridge. We spent half a day discussing habitat— how to assess it, find evidence of fauna occupying it, how to look after it.
The third module will cover weed control technique and safe work practices. It is yet to be scheduled, but we will run it as soon as we can—so stay tuned for more information or contact Monica at the Bushcare Office on 4780 5528 or firstname.lastname@example.org
by Dan Marshall, Coordinator Three Gullies Landcare Group
Three Gullies Landcare (3GLC), as its name implies, consists of three gullies in an area of land bordered by the railway line and Bruce Rd Glenbrook, south of Eureka Rd to number 39 Bruce Rd. The three gullies are fed by watercourses from the east and ultimately deliver the water to Glenbrook Creek via culverts under the railway corridor.
The three gullies are the intermediary from the much higher eastern side residential dwellings, road and water drainage systems and in heavy rain carry significant water flows. Over time, this water flow has caused significant erosion, particularly in Gully One.
During my time with 3GLC, we have used traditional log retaining walls to help slow down the flow. The logs were sourced on site from fallen trees and from removal of weeds. These log walls are situated at various locations along the creek and are of varying heights and widths (depending on the logs available at the time). Although these log walls worked well, retaining silt during low water flows, they were no match for the rate of flow during periods of high rain fall and more importantly didn’t stop erosion of the creek beds.
I discussed this with Tracy Williams and Eric Mahony from Blue Mountains City Council’s Bushcare program for their input. As a result, the plan for an onsite practical workshop was proposed. Timing is everything in life and presently funding is available for assistance and the main material (flat sandstone rock) is cheaply available from expanded pits at the local Blaxland tip.
So on Thursday 9th June, 2016, after initial discussions and a briefing session, and with a workforce headed by Eric Mahony and contractors from “The Bush Doctor” under Shane Grundy, Tracy Williams, the 3GLC and neighbouring Landcare groups (Bush Place, Raymond Rd and Cox Reserve), the work began. Well, mainly the “Bush Doctor” group (about 9 fit young men!) did the heavy lifting of moving the sandstone from the roadside down the gully to appropriate locations along the creek.
Of course, the starting point was at the lowest spot in the gully at the Railway built culvert and then using a step of 300mm (ruler length) the first step was installed using a bed of Bidim (Geotextile fabric). The Bidim was laid and dug in along the leading (upstream) edge, and covered by flat rock at the spill over point and underneath the water fall. The sides were lined by sandstone pieces wedged into the side of the creek wall to reinforce the wall and to direct the water over the flat rock.
Other materials were used such as skinny coir logs held in place by wooden stakes to fill undercut sections of the creek. Existing native plants in the creek bed were protected by hessian mat with appropriate cut outs for the coming plantings. Ultimately further 300mm (ruler) steps continued up the creek until a flat stretch of the creek was reached where future planting of natives will further aid in slowing the flow. Ultimately approximately half the creek was upgraded and plans were made for another day later this year. It is hoped this allows more plants to be laid and the new work to be settled in.
Log retaining walls are fine provided the wall is lower in the centre, otherwise the water will flow around the outside creating more paths;
Drops should only be 300mm or less to prevent “boiling” causing undercutting;
The base of drops must be solid impermeable material;
Natural bends in the creek can be reinforced on the sides but its best to keep drop offs some distance away to minimise the rate of water flow entering the bends;
Deep pools can be used or encouraged as spots for aquatic creatures (platypus would be great but unlikely)
Silt gathered before walls needs to be monitored and removed where necessary.
Finally it was a pleasure to have a break from weeding for 3GLC and to meet the members of the nearby Landcare groups as well as to have the input from Eric Mahony and the Bush Doctor workforce. Of course the excellent morning tea supplied by Tracy Williams fully replenished us all so we could carry on working until knock off time.
The members of 3GLC look forward to the next instalment.