Do­ing their bit sup­port the reef

NewsMail - Wide Bay Rural Weekly - - Front Page - Peter and Bevly Hughes

THE Mary River Catch­ment Co-or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee has been suc­cess­ful in ob­tain­ing fund­ing through phase three of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Reef Trust pro­gram.

Land­hold­ers lo­cated in high pri­or­ity ar­eas of the Mary catch­ment are el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance with on-ground projects that will con­trib­ute to a re­duc­tion in sed­i­ment run-off onto the Bar­rier Reef.

The MRCCC’s Brad Wed­lock told a large group of gra­ziers at­tend­ing a Gympie and Dis­trict Beef Li­ai­son Group field day on the Viner property at Up­per Glas­ton­bury that ap­pli­ca­tions were now open.

“There has been a change,” Mr Wed­lock said. “This time gra­ziers will have to have com­pleted a Graz­ing BMP (best man­age­ment prac­tice) work­shop or on­line self as­sess­ment.”

He said BMP al­lowed gra­ziers to bench­mark their own man­age­ment prac­tices against beef in­dus­try stan­dards.

Mr Wed­lock said the Mary was the south­ern­most river that af­fected con­di­tions on the reef and the graz­ing in­dus­try was car­ried out on 70% of catch­ment land area.

“BMP al­lows an hon­est look at pas­ture and graz­ing land con­di­tion,” he said. “Good, well-cov­ered ground re­duces the amount of sed­i­ment and nu­tri­ents that can be washed into streams.”

Mr Wed­lock said the big­gest weapon in re­duc­ing sed­i­ment and nu­tri­ent run-off was strate­gic fence place­ment.

He said fenced ar­eas al­lowed bet­ter an­i­mal man­age­ment that could re­strict over-graz­ing and keep a good veg­e­ta­tive cover on the ground.

The new pro­gram will fo­cus on Mary sub-catch­ments, the Widgee, Glas­ton­bury and Wide Bay sub-catch­ments, and south in­clud­ing the Ke­nil­worth and Conon­dale sub-catch­ments.

“A key to the project will be fil­ter­ing out nu­tri­ents and sed­i­ments be­fore they can reach the river sys­tem,” Mr Wed­lock said. “As such wet­land sys­tems such as ri­par­ian zones, bil­l­abongs and marshy ar­eas will have a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus.”

The reg­is­tra­tion process for gra­ziers starts with the BMP as­sess­ment, af­ter which the MRCCC team will have a one-on-one meet­ing and make ad­di­tional as­sess­ments of the property.

This will be eval­u­ated and a de­ci­sion reached on grant­ing as­sis­tance ap­proval.

A brief run-down of project types in­clude fenc­ing to ex­clude ri­par­ian zones, off stream wa­ter points, fenc­ing ac­cord­ing to soil type and to­pog­ra­phy, and fenc­ing to help sta­bilise gul­lies or help re-es­tab­lished forested ridge lines.

Lower Wonga gra­zier John Cross­ley, who had par­tic­i­pated in pre­vi­ous pro­grams, said off stream wa­ter points meant cat­tle were di­rected to in­crease graz­ing away from the creek.

He said it gave much more ef­fi­cient pas­ture util­i­sa­tion and eas­ier mus­ter­ing.

Brian Heck, of Bryvon­lea Drought­mas­ters, Up­per Glas­ton­bury, said putting wa­ter tanks on the high­est points took cat­tle to ar­eas they did not pre­vi­ously graze.

Other gra­ziers made sim­i­lar com­ments and all agreed that they should have or­gan­ised their fenc­ing like this years ago.

Grant ap­pli­ca­tions can be made through the MRCCC Gympie of­fice.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

FOR THE REEF: Pas­ture agron­o­mist Graeme El­phin­stone (left) with Thee­bine gra­zier Donna Wood­ward, Lower Wonga gra­zier Yvonne Cross­ley and Mary River Catch­ment Co-or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee oper­a­tions man­ager Brad Wed­lock.

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