The Advisory Group met on March 16 with Mike Stevens (Team Leader, Environment and Heritage) as acting Ranger in Charge as Dave R is on secondment to the North East part of the state. We had two main topics to discuss with three visitors from Melbourne, plus of course a list of local ongoing issues.
Our first visitors were Tony Varcoe (Community Engagement and Inclusion) and Young Soo Kwon, an exchange ranger from South Korea who were both interested to observe how an AG works as ours is one of the very few parks to have one. We introduced ourselves, the history of the AG and our own backgrounds and they then listened in as we discussed:
Community partnerships. There are 17 of these groups and the park benefits hugely eg the partnership with Deakin University costs $5000 but delivers $100,000 worth of projects.
Grampians Peaks Trail Progress: Some delays being experienced, with the cultural heritage work needing to be done on new tracks, good stone work continuing on tracks that are being upgraded. To learn more about the Grampians Peaks Trail visit www.grampianspeakstrail.com.au.
Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby colony: We are awaiting a decision from DELWP as to what should be done with the group. Mike has sent them a letter with the suggestions we had agreed to at a previous meeting.
Zumsteins cottages: Waiting on some rain to complete landscaping and interpretation work.
Camping in the Mt Stapylton area and the changing profile of park visitors, especially rock climbers: This needs careful thought and planning, and the current management plan is out of date here (and elsewhere).
Park Connect: We were encouraged to register on it and publicise it (see separate article).
Golton Gorge work: Once the cultural heritage work has been completed work will start on making a new track there to replace the one destroyed in the 2014 fires. One side of the creek only, and most of the work being done by volunteers (again, see separate article).
A brief break and then Mike and Tina Konstantinidis the corporate environmental planning partner led us through the draft Grampians – Gariwerd Conservation Action Plan which we’d all received a few days earlier (all 122 pages of it).
A draft summary will be available soon, so I won’t go into details, but we looked at the current health status of the different environmental communities within the park, and where it is realistic to expect them to be in 10 years’ time with good management (e.g. heathlands, grasslands, alpine ….). And the threats these different areas are facing. Herbivores, both native and introduced, and in some areas the native ones (e.g. swamp wallabies) are the main culprits. Weeds, rabbits, hares, cats and foxes, fire, water harvesting …. We discussed these at the meeting and then continued to email further comments over the next week or two. Tina replied at the end that “We don’t usually have the opportunity to meet with an advisory group to discuss CAPs so this has been a great exercise in getting some perspective outside of government agency colleagues.”
Mike anticipates hardcopies of the plan will be available around June and will send out a link to an online version once available.