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Angair has, as usual, been very active throughout the year.

The Wildflower and Art Show is always a major event to organise and run. This year the show received the Surf Coast Shire (SCS) award for Community Event of the Year. Congratulations to the organising committee especially Chris Morrissey, the chair. I would like to acknowledge the Anglesea and District Community Bank for its sponsorship of the Art Show, and the SCS for its continuing support for the wildflower weekend.

Other Angair activities included the annual dinner at the Anglesea Golf Club with a guest speaker, and bimonthly guest speakers at the Senior Citizens Club. Monthly bird watching excursions, Get to Know Our Tracks walks, nature rambles, plant studies, weekly weeding and propagating activities all add up to many volunteers achieving lots of good work. The Management Committee thanks all the organisers and volunteer workers, without whom Angair could not operate.

I am indebted to the committee for its support during the year, in particular Conrad White for keeping our finances in order and reporting regularly, David Williams for his very efficient secretarial and governance reporting work and Helen Tutt who, as immediate past president, has taken on a huge part of the workload of making sure Angair is as efficiently run as possible. Helen and Jim Tutt have also been recognised by the SCS with their very worthy shared Citizen of the Year for Community Involvement award.

Thanks are due to a great many people who support Angair’S work in various ways. To name but a few:

  • Mandy Mitchell-Taverner who opens and operates the Mary White Library, as well as cataloguing and purchasing new books
  • Des Clark who was responsible for editing and publishing the Angair newsletter for many years
  • Lynn Wallace-Clancy who spends many hours sorting, filing, maintaining the membership database and chasing lapsed members
  • Philippa Hesterman who plays an important role maintaining the Angair office and surrounding garden area
  • The regular contributors to the newsletter, who mostly organise ongoing activities as well
  • Les Lyons and Neil Tucker who have been busy re-organising the equipment area at the Memorial Hall
  • Kaye Traynor for her beautiful artwork on the fauna post cards and her maintenance of our growing natural history collection
  • Rod Brooks who maintains our website, which, incidentally, is well worth a look
  • The Wade family who have generously offered the propagation group a temporary home.

This year Angair awarded a life membership to Carl Rayner. Carl puts an enormous amount of energy and effort into Environmental Care activities including the development of grant applications and their management and acquittal. He often works several days a week with Angair volunteers and school children. I suspect that without Carl’s work, the area surrounding Anglesea and Aireys Inlet would be swamped with a mix of introduced non-indigenous species and we would all be poorer for it. He has many helpers, including Janet Stephens, Wendy Crebbin and a regular team of volunteer weeders. Weed management is a critical activity that Angair undertakes, significantly contributing to conservation values. This year, major infestations of Blue Bell Creeper, Sallow Wattle, Boneseed and Coast Teatree have been removed from coastal and inland areas.

Angair faces some challenges as we move forward. Our membership numbers are quite strong but are skewed to an older age group. We need to seek new ways to engage a younger audience. One way to do this is to develop electronic applications for smart phones. We are investing in this area by adding local biodiversity information to the Surf Coast Nature Search app, which currently covers the coast from Point Impossible to Bells Beach. We are also actively involved with primary, secondary and tertiary students in activities including plant identification, weeding, revegetation and conservation techniques. As individual members, we all need to take opportunities to recruit new members and spread the conservation message. This coming year we will add to our educational materials with the production of a coloured flora brochure.

Another challenge this past year has been to find a new home for the propagation group. We hope to begin construction of a propagation shed and greenhouse on Community Precinct land at the back of the Memorial Hall in the second half of this year, subject to the results of a VCAT hearing in June. Angair is indebted to Nick Walter, who has worked with the propagation committee on an appropriate shed design, and spent many hours drawing professional plans, checking site details and completing the considerable paperwork associated with the planning and VCAT process. The Angair Fund trustees decided that donations made in 2015 should go towards the relocation of the propagation facilities. Alcoa and another benefactor have made substantial contributions towards the new propagation facilities.

Many thanks are also due to the McKellars for a herculean effort in hosting and running the propagation unit for 13 years at Grasstrees. Bill’s expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm are infectious and some great work has been done, especially with hard-to-propagate species. Plants have been used in a number of locations by various organisations and businesses and have also been available at local markets.

The planting at Red Rocks, Point Addis, in May, was very successful with many volunteers attending, including students from Gordon TAFE in Geelong. Tristan McGrath, one of the students, was in charge of the project, which established 180 local provenance indigenous plants.

With the closing of the Alcoa Power Station and coalmine, the committee has been busy representing Angair’s interests at meetings organised variously by Alcoa (Community Consultation Meetings), DELWP (Community Conversations), SCS and State Emergency Services. The current State Government made an election commitment to better protect the Anglesea Heath by placing it in the Great Otway National Park and Angair fully supports this proposal. What will happen to disturbed areas within the mining envelope that will need to be rehabilitated is a matter of ongoing public consultation. Recent discussions have focused on Anglesea River health, with the State Government making a commitment to maintain sufficient flow in the River to avoid localised acid sulphate events and to maintain recreational water use. An engineering consultant’s report indicates that an artificial flow of up to one megalitre per day will achieve this aim. Alcoa is currently treating and pumping about 4 megalitres per day even though mining and power generation activities have ceased.

Angair is represented at many levels in order to achieve its conservation aims. We work closely with other agencies involved with protection and conservation of native vegetation including the Surf Coast Shire, Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, Friends of Eastern Otways, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Parks Vic, Surf Coast and Inland Plains Landcare Network and DELWP. There are also several “Friends of” Groups including Anglesea Coast, Allen Noble Sanctuary, Point Addis, Aireys Inlet Coastal Reserve and Painkalac Creek.

We have assisted with the Federal Government’s Green Army project, providing extension opportunities for one team and hosting a second. We have relationships/partnerships with Anglesea Primary School, YMCA Camp, St Bernards Catholic College, St Josephs Catholic College, and Gordon TAFE Institute Conservation and Land Management students. None of these activities would be possible without major commitments from many Angair members who are willing to share their training, energy and expertise with younger people.

The Committee, after much discussion, has decided to raise membership fees. Increased administration costs and anticipated increased newsletter postage costs have necessitated the rise. New fees for 2016 will be $30 and $20 concession. I encourage members to use electronic versions of the newsletter if possible, which will help Angair with both labour and costs. The electronic version contains photos in colour and can provide links to websites as well. It is also well worth checking our website and Facebook pages.

Angair has made many submissions during the year, including to:

  • IGEM (Inspector General for Emergency Management) concerning a review of performance targets for bushfire fuel management on public land
  • The Western Coastal Board concerning the draft Western Regional Coastal Plan 2015-2020
  • The SCS regarding Open Space Policy
  • Moolap Wetlands Development Plans
  • Parks Vic with comment on the proposed new Management Plan for the Greater Otways National Park (GONP) to formalise a mountain bike, track system.

Angair members have also been involved with Grevillea infecunda research, thanks to Margaret MacDonald and Rani Hunt, Biodiversity Officer with DELWP. Members assisted with surveying plant survival following fuel reduction burns and searching new areas with some success. Angair members were delighted to learn that Margaret MacDonald OAM was awarded the prestigious Australian Natural History Medallion for 2015.

Angair has also met with the CFA and SCS to discuss proposed fuel management burning of reserves controlled by SCS within Anglesea. Burn plans will be developed in the next 12 months. The reserves are Kuarka Dorla, Edna Bowman and the Lookout (which will be undertaken in two stages, two years apart). It is proposed to start the burns in autumn/winter of 2016.

Peter Forster