31 May 2018
A thriving partnership between Bega Valley Shire Council and South East Local Land Services is supercharging the Green Shoots bushfire recovery program in the Tathra area.
With the bushfire recovery phase now in full swing, the management and immediate stabilisation of natural areas that were impacted during the disaster has been identified as a clear priority.
The implementation of a remediation program is now well advanced, with the assistance of Local Land Services and the mobilisation of the local Koori work crew proving extremely valuable.
Bega Valley Shire Council’s Acting Environmental Services Coordinator, Michael Fiedler, said the initial actions, that have included the installation of sediment traps and flow control devices, are focussed on preventing adverse and potentially significant impacts on the environment and community in the event of a moderate or significant rainfall event.
“The work completed so far has involved relatively cheap yet proven measures such as the placement of straw bales and coir logs in gullies, and the installation of sediment fences in vulnerable areas - fallen logs and dead trees have also been placed across slopes in heavily impacted areas,” Mr Fiedler said.
“The mitigation measures will lessen the risk of gully and sheet erosion as well as landslip and will slow the movement of soil, sediment and ash from fire impacted lands into waterways or public and community assets.
“So far over 600 straw bales have been deployed and 270 hectares of severely affected land treated, but there is so much more work to do.
“The urgency, necessity and value of the work being undertaken is highlighted by the fact that 120,000 cubic metres of soil was estimated as potentially being lost from the catchments immediately behind Tathra if nothing was done.
“It is also recognised that fire can have significant impacts on water and habitat quality by increasing nutrient loads from ash and sediment, resulting in potential fish kills as well as smothering and disrupting ecosystem processes, especially in the Bega River and its wetlands.
“There is also a risk soil and sediment loss could severely affect Tathra’s stormwater infrastructure and roads as well as increase the flood risk.
“With Tathra’s economy heavily reliant on tourism, the quality of the surrounding environments, including bushland reserves, the Bega River Estuary (a declared Recreational Fishing Haven), Tathra Beach and the scenic clifftop reserves areas have a vital role to play in attracting visitors to town.
“The works being undertaken will help ensure these important assets are protected and will assist their recovery in the future,” Mr Fiedler said.
Further events and opportunities for the public to be involved in the Green Shoots program will evolve as the damage to natural areas are fully assessed and they are opened up to the public.
For more information, contact Michael Fiedler on (02) 6499 2222.
Photograph: The local Koori Work Crew is playing a vital role in the stabilisation of natural areas around Tathra.