Plan to stop river de­grad­ing

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - Warren Hately

Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion Margaret River and the Shire of Au­gusta-Margaret River will de­velop an over­ar­ch­ing pro­tec­tion strat­egy for the Margaret River, tak­ing ac­tion on long-run­ning fears for the re­gion’s name­sake wa­ter­way.

Mo­men­tum for the strat­egy has gained force since a Times re­port in De­cem­ber warned WA’s Depart­ment of Water found the Margaret River was in “se­ri­ous de­cline”.

The lat­est re­port fol­lows oth­ers over the past four years not­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to main­tain the health of the river and stop it from de­grad­ing to the same poor sta­tus as other wa­ter­ways in the South West.

The new col­lab­o­ra­tive group would also act on calls from the Margaret River Re­gional En­vi­ron­ment Cen­tre for the Shire to do more to save the river, also re­flected in rec­om­men­da­tions fac­ing the coun­cil at a spe­cial meet­ing next week.

Co-or­di­na­tor Neroli Cart­lon pre­vi­ously said river con­ser­va­tion ef­forts had to in­clude more vege­ta­tion buf­fers, re­duc­ing fer­tiliser and con­tam­i­nants, and re­view­ing land ti­tles en­croach­ing on the river when prop­er­ties changed own­ers.

The Times un­der­stands ac­tions would also con­sider the in­creas­ing pres­sure on the Margaret River from tourism.

NCMR co-or­di­na­tor Caro­line Hughes said fund­ing from the Na­tional Land­care Pro­gram was driv­ing de­vel­op­ment of a Margaret River Pro­tec­tion Strat­egy “to pro­tect the long-term eco­log­i­cal health of the Margaret River”.

“Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion staff are work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively with the Au­gusta-Margaret River Shire, Gov­ern­ment agen­cies and indige­nous cus­to­di­ans to iden­tify pri­or­ity man­age­ment ac­tions and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as part of the strat­egy, which is due for com­ple­tion by June, 2018,” Ms Hughes said.

“A re­cently se­cured State (Nat­u­ral Re­sources Man­age­ment) Pro­gram com­mu­nity ac­tion grant and sup­port­ing con­tri­bu­tion from the Shire’s en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment fund will al­low fur­ther col­lab­o­ra­tion, com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion and de­tailed de­vel­op­ment of man­age­ment mea­sures to pro­tect

the river over the com­ing year.”

Shire pres­i­dent Pam Town­shend told the Times the pro­tec­tion strat­egy had arisen from the win­ter di­ver­sion de­bate.

The coun­cil ini­tially re­solved to en­gage NCMR for a study of the river’s ri­par­ian catchment, but the Shire “mis­in­ter­preted” the in­struc­tions in sub­se­quent ad­ver­tis­ing.

“In the word­ing of the brief, it was asked that the con­sul­tant rec­om­mend ac­tions that would im­prove the health of the Margaret River,” Cr Town­shend said.

“The Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cers who worked on the re­port, which has not yet been pre­sented to coun­cil, de­cided that one of the ac­tions needed to im­prove the health of the Margaret River was to form a col­lab­o­ra­tive group in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment agen­cies, such as Depart­ment of Water (and oth­ers).”

South West re­gion man­ager Adam Maskew con­firmed the Depart­ment of Water and En­vi­ron­men­tal Reg­u­la­tion was part of the new group at NCMR’s re­quest.

“Many ac­tions in the pro­posed plan align with DWER pro­grams and ini­tia­tives and the depart­ment will con­tinue to ex­plore how NRM groups and com­mu­nity al­liances can assist in achiev­ing water re­source man­age­ment goals,” he said.

NCMR’s sep­a­rate Margaret River Fore­shore Re­serve Ac­tion Plan is due by June 30.

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