I CAME to the Clarence in 1952 after leaving Melbourne. I was extremely impressed with the beauty of the Clarence River of which there was no comparison with the Yarra River in Melbourne.
What most impressed me was Elizabeth Island. People would go there for picnics and sporting events. The lessee of the island kept it clean with grazing cattle. The goats on the island would control the noxious weeds.
In the 1980s a change occurred whereby the island was administrated by trustees. They told the lessee of the island to remove the cattle and shoot the goats.
As a result, 30 years later it has become a total wilderness with noxious weeds in particular lantana, tobacco bush and castor oil, with many other noxious weeds which has an enormous impact on the flow of the river at flood time.
The flow is being diverted to left and right of the island doing tremendous damage to the embankments not to mention the silting up of the river. It will cost thousands of dollars to rock protect and restore the embankment at the taxpayers’ expense.
Not so long ago the council engaged five engineers who came to give advice on how to minimise flooding. Those engineers came from Delph University with expertise in water management.
The policy overseas expressed by them to the relevant parties to look after the river was the complete opposite of current practice. The policy which seems to prevail by the trustees is to promote the growth of trees and undesirable vegetation without any management plan seemingly implemented.
With the popularity of Corcoran Park at times being very overcrowded, it would be wise to restore Elizabeth Island to the former glory days of the past. This would be of tremendous benefit to both the ratepayers and tourists of Grafton.
If however, no funds are available to clean the mess the island is currently in, we may be able to get some brumbies from the Mt Kosciusko National Park which will do the job.
After some research I have come to know in the 2014 to 2016 period there was a $99,000 grant given to maintain and control the vegetation (noxious weeds) which was given to both Susan and Elizabeth Island.
Living across from the Island since 1975 I know there has been no activity on the island that has been of any worthwhile benefit to Elizabeth Island.
What I have observed is that the velocity of the river has increased due to the obstruction that the vegetation on the island provides in flood time having a negative input along the river.
I believe new trustees should be appointed to look at the issue with fresh eyes. With appointments due next year, perhaps it is time for a different cross section of the community to take over the issue.
Laurie Van De Velde, Grafton