Catchment Stabilisation and Estuarine Protection project update

The regenerated Blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa) is flowering strongly and attracting many insect pollinators, including beetles, wasps, butterflies and native bees, which in turn provide food for native birds and other insectivores.
The regenerated Blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa) is flowering strongly and attracting many insect pollinators, including beetles, wasps, butterflies and native bees, which in turn provide food for native birds and other insectivores

Bega Valley Shire Council’s three-year Catchment Stabilisation and Estuarine Protection project is progressing well, and Council is pleased to be on the threshold of the next stage of work.

Following completion of initial emergency works, the environment team have been out in the field assessing fire-impacted areas to identify additional sites for rehabilitation works.

“The initial stage of the project began immediately after the Black Summer bushfires with the installation of essential sediment and erosion controls in bushfire-affected estuaries and waterways,” Council’s Coastal Management Officer, Rachel Duczynski said.

More than 150 coir logs and other materials were installed throughout the Wonboyn catchment and Bega catchment in Brogo to reduce sediment and burnt material entering the waterways.

Sediment and ash carried in runoff can lead to increased turbidity and higher nutrient loads, which can impact oyster aquaculture, seagrass and fish communities. Retaining topsoil is also important for the natural regeneration of burnt areas.

“We can now report that many of the fire-impacted areas are regenerating well following the wet and mild summer conditions,” Ms Duczynski said.

“The regrowth is protecting the soil from further erosion and providing habitat for native biodiversity.”

Bank stabilisation, erosion control and weed treatment in Dry River near Quaama and installation of erosion controls in Narira Creek, Cobargo were also undertaken as part of the initial works, along with a private property on the Towamba River.

Ms Duczynski said Council worked in partnership with Local Land Services on a fire-impacted private property along the Towamba River.

“Large portions of land directly adjacent to our waterways are privately owned so working with landholders on rehabilitation projects is vital to waterway recovery,” she said.

“Local contractors and Connecting Communities Australia volunteers helped the landholder fence their river frontage, secure the eroding gully with coir logs, plant 300 native plants and install a deer-proof fence.

“With the emergency works finalised, we have identified locations for more rehabilitation style works and prioritised sites that pose a high risk to estuary health.”

Sites for the next stage of work are:

  • Myrtle Cove – (Wonboyn catchment) – weed control of Arum Lily, clearing of hazardous burnt vegetation, revegetation, vegetation assessment by an ecologist and establishment of monitoring points.
  • Dry River – Quaama (Murrah catchment) – weed and erosion control, vegetation assessment by an ecologist, establishment of monitoring points, wood chipping of burnt vegetation, weed and erosion control, revegetation and community planting day.
  • Shadracks, Nullica and Brandy Creek catchments – sediment and erosion controls.
  • Narira Creek – Cobargo (Wallaga catchment) – erosion control works and revegetation.
  • Towamba catchment – installation of erosion and sediment controls, and engagement with landholders on private land sites.
  • Bermagui and Cuttagee catchments – sediment and erosion controls in the upper catchment.
  • Eden – Lake Curalo catchment – weed control and revegetation of cleared areas.

To investigate the post bushfire impacts on waterways, Council commenced monthly water quality monitoring in January at Wonboyn Lake, Nullica River, Towamba River, Murrah River and Wallaga Lake. This follows water quality monitoring undertaken by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) in Wonboyn Lake since January.

Council is also working closely with Eurobodalla and Shoalhaven councils and relevant agencies on a broader regional recovery assessment and implementation program, which will help guide future works.

The Catchment Stabilisation and Estuarine Protection project is funded under the NSW DPIE Coastal and Estuary Grants Program and by Council.

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