The major news, this month, is Alcoa’s announcement that it is closing the power station and mine at the end of August.
Angair will be taking an active interest in the rehabilitation process, and the transition of the leasehold land into the Great Otway National Park. Three Angairmembers attended the Alcoa Community Consultation Network meeting on Monday, 18 May. The meeting was well attended with Alcoa employees, community, SCS Staff and Councillors, Earth Resources and EPA representatives. The rehabilitation and decommissioning will take some years to complete.
Currently the power station operations result in 4 to 5 megalitre of water flowing into the Anglesea River per day – about half of the total flow. This water is pumped from ground water reserves. When operations cease, this flow will stop, and stream flow will reflect natural rainfall events. The wetlands and estuary water levels will show more variability, and the wetlands will probably recede in periods of low flow. These issues will be discussed by the Shire’s Anglesea River Working Group; Angair has membership of this group.
Bushfire Fuel Management on Public Land
Government has released the Review of Performance Targets for Bushfire Fuel Management on Public Land by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM). The review makes four recommendations for the way forward in Victoria’s fuel management, including a shift away from a hectare-based fuel reduction target to a risk-reduction target, which is also the same view of the Bushfires Royal Commission Implementation Monitor.
Government will now begin consultation with communities and stakeholders, including fire management agencies, before making a decision on the recommendations later this year.
Read the Victorian Government media release: Type in “Communities to have a say in bushfire fuel management” to your search engine. For information on the report and consultation process, visit the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website: www.delwp.vic.gov.au
Angair made a submission to the IGEM review.
Thank you to all those Angair and Friends of Eastern Otway members, who walked the Eumeralla mountain bike/walking tracks, to enable informed comment on the proposed new Management Plan for the GONP, to formalise a mountain bike, track system. Both organisations made submissions. Part of the Plan is to have a Management Committee, comprised of agency staff and users. It will be essential to have environmental membership, and input to this Committee.
Angair has been concerned about a patch of compacted ground along the Surf Coast Walk above Red Rocks. It is bare and windy, and the plants put there previously have struggled. One of the Gordon TAFE Environmental Diploma Students took it on as his project. Angair donated $1000 for soil testing, consultant advice and plants. We planted it out again, and it was the community at its best. We had staff from Parks Victoria, students from Gordon TAFE and Angair members using gear from GORCC and Parks Victoria and fertiliser from Angair, to plant 200 local plants. It rained the next day, so our results might be better than the previous five attempts. Thanks to those involved.
We have written to Vic Roads, which now manage Menzel’s Reserve, to seek access to the area for our weeding activities.
Menzel’s Reserve (Melways map page 15 A 20) is in Bellbrae, on the corner of the Great Ocean Road and Seifferts Road. It was, until 2013, under the Surf Coast Shire’s management. Angair, with the Shire’s permission, has included this Reserve in the areas for our voluntary, weekly weeding program. We understand that the reserve is now under the care of Vic Roads, and Angair has written to Vic Roads seeking permission to continue our involvement with the Reserve, and visit it once a year to remove weeds and have a general clean up.
Our motivation is to protect its biodiversity. In particular, it’s the only known site in our region of Pelargonium rodneyamum Magenta Storksbill, Cassinia arcuata Drooping Cassinia and Daviesia latifolia Hop Bitter-pea. There are also healthy groups of Bursaria spinosa Sweet Bursaria, Themeda triandra Kangaroo grass, and other native species.
The reserve can be divided into two parts. The eastern area, along the Great Ocean Road, is an old gravel road with pine trees and emerging Acacia dealbata Silver Wattle. This is beyond our capacity. The western section, along Seifferts Road from the Great Ocean Road, is different, being full of native vegetation. Here the biodiversity is under threat from the rapid spread of Acacia dealbata, Briza grass, other garden escapees, and general rubbish. We believe a few hours work would make a large difference, and improve the quality of the native vegetation at this site.
Plant Propagating Site
We had a very helpful meeting with the Surf Coast Shire about resiting the plant propagating work. Our preferred option, north-west of the Angair Natural History Centre, is being considered by them, but there are many hurdles yet.