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3. Wetlands - Willows Removal
26 Mar 2009
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The Narrandera (Stormwater) Wetlands were constructed during May and June 2005. Fortunately we had a rain event which filled the Wetlands in July 2005. The problems with the exotic willow were noted, but not included in the project to establish the Wetlands.

Following a 12 month settling in period Narrandera Landcare set to work on the next major undertaking. That was to remove the willow from the Bundidgerry Creek inlet to the Wetlands. Community Water Grant Funding was sought, and secured in early 2007 to undertake this task.

A simple plan was devised: Cut ? Chemically treat stumps ? Stack ? Burn ? Replant banks with local native species

The plan worked well, however the time-line slipped out a little. This was due to small rain events, just enough rain to wet the heaps and prevent the scheduled burning activities. During the Summer burning was not possible due to the total fire ban period, and then of course, we had more small rain activities to delay the task. Eventually this task was completed, and the planting activities took place during June and July 2008.

The willow stumps were painted with bioactive round-up, as the contractor and a couple of Landcare members progressed through the cutting and sacking task. We only use bioactive (‘Frog Friendly’) round-up in the Wetlands site. Also, we avoid spraying as far as possible preferring to apply the chemical by painting, or dabbing with weed wands. This is for both OH&S considerations and to avoid undesirable contamination of the immediate site as a consequence of ‘drift’, or over-spraying. This approach can at times be rather tedious, but it’s so much safer for the environment and the workers.

The project was successfully completed in July 2008.

There has been spontaneous outbreak of weeds in the inlet area as a consequence of the work undertaken. This was expected. The removal of the willow canopy let sunlight and warmth onto the creek line and banks and the ‘weed seed bank’ contained in the creek inlet line was liberated. Chipping is such a contemplative and therapeutic task.

The first rain event demonstrated the inadequacy of the gross pollutant trap at the siphon, and also how successful the work had been. The inlet was very free flowing and a zillion drink cans, bottles, balls, shopping bags etc., etc., bobbed happily around in the wetland. Thankfully the control gates at the outlet prevented the rubbish continuing on into Bundidgerry Creek and the Murrumbidgee River. The pollutant trap was perhaps a touch under-engineered, Council and Landcare are currently taking action correct this facility.

With the construction, and removal of the willow, the Narrandera wetlands provide the habitats and food sources for the terrestrial ecological communities of rare and endangered species of animals endemic to the area. These include The Superb Parrot (Polytelis swanisonii), Koala (Phascolarctus cinereous), Sourthern Bell frog (Litoria raniformis) and the Yellow Spotted Tree Frog (Litoria castanea). Members of the Narrandera Koala Colony are regular visitors to the area. A small flock of Superb Parrot, about 12-15, were observed feeding on the hop bushes during late October/early November 2008.

We are currently planning projects to provide a pedestrian bridge across the inlet, and also bird hides in the area. There’s always something more to do.

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