Advisory Group Meeting Minutes
Much of our meeting was of course fire related as we came to terms with the intensity of the fire and the damage done. But we first had a few items of business arising from the December meeting.
1. Recruitment process for Advisory Group:advertisements will go in local papers very soon, calling for expressions of interest. Procedures for forming a Traditional Owner Reference Group are nearing completion.
2. Camping:Asbestos at Staplyton campground is being cleaned up this week. Staplyton will be included in the Online booking system being rolled out. However Staplyton campground doesn’t easily align with the Grampians Peak Trail. A second campground in the Northern part of the Park would be desirable. Coppermine could be changed from an informal campground into a formal one or a private sector could run a campground on the edge of the Park whether it is roofed accommodation or just basic camping. There is some interest in this but the Northern Grampians Shire would need to rezone the farm land.
Strachan’s will be opened next week.
We then turned our attention to the fire.
Dave had taken those available (not me) on a drive through the fire affected areas, the rest of us had looked at what we could see from the opened roads. In many areas the fire was extremely hot.
Discussion on the 3 cottages at Zumsteins. The central one is in a reasonable state but the other two are badly damaged. Our suggestion was to fix the one and protect the others from further deterioration, but this will depend on Heritage Victoria’s recommendations.
Action: Dave to seek advice from Heritage Victoria ASAP before the winter regarding protecting the cottages from damage.
Fish Falls will be open before Easter.
MacKenzie Falls will stay closed until after Easter. MacKenzie Falls precinct is badly damaged – the Lookout needs to be re boarded. The house is gone and may be difficult to replace with the bushfire overlay. Should the kiosk be replaced? Winfield’s still have a 3 year lease. Discussions with them are continuing.
Investigating using solar and hydro for energy which would mean being able to get rid of the 5km power line from MacKenzie Falls to Zumsteins
Funding is not as good as we would like it. $250,000.00 has been allocated for the clean-up.
Insurance will cover replacements
Summer Day Valley walk can be realigned. There is $80,000.00 for Summer Day Valley and Hollow Mountain clean up.
Tree risk is not covered by insurance.
Heatherlie Quarry has had some assets burnt.
Golton Gorge will move to the back of the list. (it was due for an upgrade).
Roses Gap has houses burnt and the Education Centre lost 6 cottages.
Cooinda Borrong Scout Camp didn’t burn. However the Exclusion plots were burnt. The yearly lease needs to be tightened up to stop unsuitable user groups using the camp.
Most roads will be opened at the end of the week. But we will keep some roads closed as the landscape needs to rest before people are allowed in.
Environmental and Cultural Heritage Recovery:
Ryan showed a map with the dozer lines in the fire affected area.
Cultural team, Traditional Owners and AAV are looking for new cultural sites and scar trees in the dozer lines before they are rehabilitated.
Sallow Wattle had been mapped before the fire and will be a major problem after the fire.
A researcher from Melbourne Uni is looking into a gall wasp to destroy Sallow Wattle.
Parks are looking for grant money for Sallow Wattle work on Park boundaries. There’s a need for both short term and long term strategies for Sallow Wattle.
Deakin Uni Students are doing research into small mammals in the fire affected area. Small mammal trapping 36 sites in the Grampians National Park. 4 sites were burnt in Mt Lubra and The Northern Grampians Complex fire.
The Borea mirabilis reintroduction site near Plantation Campground was burnt and is being closely monitored. (This extremely rare plant is known from only one natural site near Halls Gap)
BTR Wallabies are still okay, no mortality since April last year.
There are now 3 photos of the Quoll in the Brush Tailed Rock Wallaby site. The team tried to trap the quoll for 7 days but had no luck.
Hair tubing is also being tried in the BTRW site, no cage traps can be used.
Local landowners talking about quoll sightings
There are now quite a few remote cameras in the Wannon Fan and Victoria Valley with interesting results, including an image of a potoroo in the Mt Lubra fire scare. Species are in the fox baited area of the park
Daryl is using soft jaw traps and changing his bait in the hope of catching cats as well..
Stone cairns being erected by walkers at the Balconies are not actually injuring lizards or beetles, but should be discouraged.
Katherine’s money will run out at the end of the year, and Dave and Ryan are looking for ways to fund her position. PV funds her 3 days a week and CVA does 2 days a week. Katherine has made important relationships with schools etc. and it is important not to lose her.