Enhancing habitat on 15 Mile Creek

Funding Source: WIRES – Landcare Wildlife Relief & Recovery Grant 2020

Timeline: July 2020 – May 2022

Funding received: $20 000

 


Project Description

Fifteen Mile Creek creek forms an important wildlife corridor and refuge in times of drought and fire. There are several sections of the creek where pools of water are retained during the summer. These important refuges are being taken over by invasive weeds including Cape Broom, Willows (Crack, Black and Pussy) and Blackberry.

The project site is Fifteen Mile Creek, from the Upper Fifteen Mile Creek Road, Myrrhee downstream to the Wangaratta-Kilfeera Road, Greta South. The length of waterway covered by this reach is approximately 25km. This section of Fifteen Mile Creek has been identified as a Priority Waterway by the North East CMA. The remnant vegetation quality varies along this reach of the creek. We know that there are permanent spring fed pools in areas along this reach which provide important local watering areas for wildlife in this area.

Our project is targeting the removal of invasive woody weeds on the Fifteen Mile Creek and revegetation with understorey shrubs to protect and enhance this riparian corridor for summer drought refuge.

Large scale willows control works have been previously completed areas by the CMA. Recently we are observing mass volumes of juvenile willows emerging on gravel bars and reshooting from cut willow stumps and these require control now to avoid the difficult task of tackling mature and large plants later. Follow up revegetation will be planted using indigenous midstorey plants, focusing on prickly shrubs for our threatened woodland bird community.

The objectives of the project are to:

  • Improve riparian habitat for our threatened woodland bird community, to create a place of summer drought refuge with adequate shelter, suitable breeding sites and access to water.
  • Protect instream habitat for aquatic species by reducing sedimentation caused by erosion. This includes the removal of instream juvenile willows (which will reduce outflanking and bank erosion in future) and guidance and support for land managers to address gully erosion on private land.
  • Protect instream habitat for aquatic species by reducing the density of willow on banks, thereby reducing large amounts of leaf litter dropped during autumn into our waterways and encouraging the retention of timber in our waterways.
  • Reduce further degradation of riparian habitat through the continued spread of invasive weeds including broom, blackberry and willow.
  • Increase landholder engagement and education with respect to riparian weeds including broom, blackberry, willow and herbaceous weeds.

Outcomes

The proposed outcomes of the project are:

  • Planting of 1000 indigenous shrubs in areas cleared of willow, broom and blackberry
  • Community Walk and Talk event on 15 Mile Creek, with waterway management emphasis – discussing local plant identification (how to tell a native and spot a weed), techniques for control of invasive species, managing erosion to reduce sedimentation and creating instream habitat
  • Project articles, including three fliers distributed to residents with land adjacent to 15 Mile creek

We will collaborate with the following groups in the course of completing this project:

  • Ovens Landcare Network – for assistance with advertising our events and publications.
  • North East Catchment Management Authority – We will work with their onground staff to ensure that the maximum waterway management outcomes are achieved for this project, including adherence to all Works on Waterways conditions
  • Rural City of Wangaratta – We will seek their assistance in targeting these weeds where roadsides come into close proximity, or at bridge crossings, over the Fifteen Mile Creek.
  • Working for Victoria – Whilst this is currently under discussion within the Victorian Government, we believe this program may be a current future labour source for this project.

Landholder involvement

The grant funding received for this project is not large and we are trying to maximise the onground impacts of this funding. To this end, the landholders will be required to assist and work in partnership with the weed contractor to provide greater labour input, or will be asked to contribute financially to some of the weed control contractors time spent on the property. This will be negotiated with the landholder on inception of the project and reasonable time limits for work on each property will be established. The Committee has defined a cost share arrangement of 30:70 (landholder: grant funding) for any spray work done by contractors on the property.

The landholders will be asked to plant the shrubs on their property after the completion of the weed control. We have run large planting projects each winter for the last three years and have good handouts, guidance and assistance to offer members to help them with their revegetation effort. As is standard practice with our group, landholders will be asked to water revegetation over the first summer to maximise rate of establishment.

Monitoring & Maintenance

  • By property, weed densities for each species will be recorded prior to control using a quantitative scale and mapped using GIS to produce thematic maps for each weed species (broom, blackberry, willow). This will assist future follow up control and be used during our consultation and engagement excerises.
  • Photos will be taken showing before and after at 10 locations for the project. These locations will be selected by the Project Officer during the inception of the project.
  • Two trail cameras provided by the group will be set up at permanent water holes on the Fifteen Mile Creek to observe fauna usage over summer 2020/21 and again 2021/22.
  • Landholders will be asked to keep on top of follow up control for broom, blackberry and willow during summer 2021/2022.

For all enquiries or further information, please contact Sally Day (Project Officer) on 0437 136 162.