Crown Land Award Finalists announced

Finalists have been announced for two prestigious Crown land awards in the 2021 Community Achievement Awards for Regional NSW/ACT.

Each year the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment supports the Crown Land Manager Excellence Award, and also the Individual Excellence in Crown Land Management Award, to highlight outstanding community service, dedication and commitment by volunteer Crown land boards and individuals.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said there was about 34 million hectares of Crown land in NSW, making up about 42 per cent of the State and providing homes for community-focused organisations, showgrounds, recreation parks, nature reserves and businesses.

“We would be lost without the thousands of volunteers who help us manage Crown land to deliver social, environmental and economic benefits for their local communities,” Mrs Pavey said.

“I congratulate each of the Finalists and wish them the best of luck at the grand final night on Friday 11th February.”

The Finalists for the Crown Land Manager Excellence Award are:

  • Deep Water Land Manager Hall Committee of Glen Innes
  • Byrangery Grass Reserve Land Manager
  • Glen Innes & District Historical Society Inc.
  • Old Bega Hospital Reserve Land Manager

Deep Water Land Manager Hall Committee of Glen Innes is small but big-hearted. Composed of four board members, the Committee manages the Deep-Water School of Arts Hall. They handle maintenance, work health and safety, security matters, and access. They maintain important documents and attend regular information and training sessions while ensuring the Hall is compliant in every regard. The Hall has been the epicentre of the rural community for over 100 years. In 2020, the Committee embarked on an ambitious upgrade program. They proactively sought government funding and trained at Grant Funding workshops. With the help of the Deepwater Community, they were granted $100,000 funding.

Byrangery Grass Reserve Land Manager of Federal is dedicated to creating a refuge for endangered fauna and flora. The 15-hectare reserve is set aside exclusively for Wildlife Habitat. The Byrangery Grass Reserve Land Manager consists of six local volunteers. They fulfil statutory obligations around meetings and reporting, apply for funding, raise funds, guide interest groups, form collaborations and monitor improvements in the ecosystem. They successfully sorted and received a $650,000 Bush Connects Grant, which helped control exotic species and regenerate native forest through seed bank germination. Over the last six years, they have focused on a Walking Track Project to improve users’ experience.

Glen Innes & District Historical Society Inc. has been serving as a custodian of the cultural heritage of the Glen Innes & District community since 1968. The Historical Society functions as a community chronicle, recording and informing successive generations through artefacts, documents and records at the Land of the Beardies Museum History House Museum and Research Centre. The Land of the Beardies occupies the former Glen Innes & District Hospital, which is listed as a heritage building. Over the past three years, the Society has been actively engaged in repairing and refurbishing the buildings, storage facilities and display areas. The Society has 255 members.

Old Bega Hospital Reserve Land Manager has committed to restoring a community hub ravished by bushfire. The Old Bega Hospital (OBH) Reserve covers 1.603 hectares. The historical reserve precinct includes the OBH Main Building, which was ravaged by bushfires in 2004. This left a void in the community as the OBH was an active community cultural hub. The OBH Board is the land manager of the Reserve, with Patricia Jones as Chair since 2007. Since the fire, the Board has set the strategic goal of sourcing grant funding to restore and renovate the main building. After 16 years, the OBH received grants totalling $3,421,000 in 2019.

The Finalists for the Individual Excellence in Crown Land Management Award are:

  • Patricia Jones of Bega
  • Stephen Thatcher of Muswellbrook
  • Louise Jenkins of Cooma
  • William West of Balmoral

Patricia Jones of Bega has demonstrated sustained commitment. In 2007, Pat became Chair of the Board of the Old Bega Hospital (OBH) Reserve, a Community Cultural Centre that is home to community groups and used for markets, festivals and private functions. Before joining the Board in 2003, Patricia was a member of Spinners and Weavers, one of the resident groups at the OBH. As Chair, Pat manages all aspects of board meetings and wrote most of the original funding applications. In 2019, Pat and the OBH Board successfully received grants totaling $3,421,000 to restore the OBH Main Building, which was ravaged by bushfires in 2004.

Stephen Thatcher of Muswellbrook has been the Chairman of the Board of the Lake Liddell Recreation Area Reserve Land Manager since 2004. The Board ensures the implementation of the Draft Strategic Plan which prioritises enabling growth, commercial opportunities and sustainable progress; expanding green space; strengthening and supporting evolving community, and working with Aboriginal communities to realise the potential of their land rights. Stephen oversees the implementation of the Code of Conduct for the Reserve, manages conflicts of interests and ensures documentation of work health and safety requirements. He was instrumental in having Scouts, Landcare and the community involved in planting 20,000 plants over the years.

Louise Jenkins of Cooma is a member of the North Ridge Reserve Advisory Committee. The Committee manages the North Ridge Reserve, a 123-hectare bushland that supports a large number of native plant species, and mammals, reptiles and birds. Louise helped improve the condition and management of the Reserve, particularly when the Committee was disbanded as a result of Council amalgamations. She initiated the application of a grant for the improvement of the Reserve’s amenities, including the walking tracks, signage, access and parking infrastructure. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she conducted publicly accessible Covid-safe walks within the Reserve to maintain local community physical and mental wellbeing.

William West of Balmoral has been a member of the Bribbaree Showground Trust since 1982. Bill is ensuring the grounds are preserved for future generations to come. He became Trust Chairman in 1984. In 1997, he became secretary/treasurer. For 37 years, Bill has tirelessly worked for the Showground. Now at 72, he vows to continue supervising the Showground, cleaning up the grounds after each event, cleaning the toilets, checking the tanks and doing everything he can to maintain the grounds in pristine condition. With extensive knowledge of the workings of the grounds, Bill has drawn up comprehensive maps of its power and water systems.

Five category winners in the annual awards will receive $2,000 in prizes and a trophy. The other category winner will receive a trophy and television exposure on PRIME7.

All finalists will go into a People’s Choice Award which is run through a Facebook page; where you can like the page and vote for your favourite finalist. The winner will be announced at an Awards Gala Presentation Dinner.

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