Advisory Group Report (August 13)

Rock Wallabies: A new ranger is looking after this (Derek Sandow) and funding has been extended. There are five animals remaining, one of them is a male. In September a new young male is planned to be introduced.

Grampians Ark: Fox control is continuing in partnership with private landholders in Victoria Valley and the Dunkeld area. This project implements a best practice pulse fox-baiting programs to protect threatened species of the volcanic plains grassy communities in a target area of grassy woodland and wetland habitat adjoining the Grampians National Park.
The baiting is timed to coincide with the Grampians Park fox baiting

Sallow Wattle: The aim had been to mulch 100 acres but only 15 acres could be done. There is now a new ranger Anke Spiridis who will get the work going again.

Goats: Shooting has been both from the air and from the ground. The aim had been 165, the actual number was 218. Aerial shooting is the more successful way. The aerial shooting comes as a package. 10% of the shot animals must be checked by a vet to ensure it is being done humanely. The vet gave a very good report. Lots of goats were in the Black range

Rabbits: Very little done as it is a lower priority. The group raised some concerns about how this wet winter may affect numbers, and there was also a query about hares.

Deer: Contractors have killed 135, many more in the Wannon area than had been expected. Plans are to engage with adjacent landowners to use sporting shooters on their properties. Donald suggested investigating the use of drones to locate both deer and goat herds.

Peaks Trail: Channel 9 had a feature on it and the Minister for Regional Development visited. The timeline has changed, and it will not be complete before March 2020. 70% of the track from Troopers Creek to Halls Gap is complete, but not yet open. Halls Gap to Cassidy Gap will be completed by December 2020. The main problem is the hiker camps, 4 will be completed by March 2020, there are 11 altogether. Then pods will be constructed at the same camp sites. These are currently only for people doing the PV indigenous cultural guided tour. About twelve indigenous folk have expressed interest in becoming tour guides, discussions are continuing on how many are needed, from which groups etc. There are quite a few staff working on the trail planning: the construction, water supplies for campers, cultural tours and other guided groups. For updates see the website.

Rubbish: We discussed the problem of visitors to the Park overloading rubbish and recycling bins in surrounding towns Halls Gap, Wartook, Dunkeld and what could be done.

Landscape Management Plan and the stakeholder group. Rhonda showed us the map of the area to be covered. See below.

Nine discussion papers by local staff will soon be available to the general public to assist in thinking through the issues and consultations will begin in September. We had much discussion about the fact that only one person from the AG is included in the stakeholder group. We unanimously agreed that this was a mistake. The AG has been the major voice of community groups with park management ever since the opening of the Park. We are not just an interest group. Also, although united in our concern for the Park, we at the same time are not always in agreement on some issues. It was agreed that our chair should write expressing this view, but until the matter was resolved that he would be our rep on the stakeholder group.

Fire Management: We heard a report on the talk given by Kevin Tolhurst on lessons learnt about fire. Big hot fires are disastrous. Control burns need to be patchy.  When staff change years of experience and knowledge are lost.

Update on climbing at Summerday valley: Lots of work going on to resolve some of the issues. Further surveys have found more cultural heritage sites. Training of tour operators is proceeding. Groups are not allowed to use the site unless they are accompanied by a licenced tour operator. Both the PV website and the climbing club websites have maps showing where climbing is allowed and where not.

Conservation Action Plan: Rhonda gave us printed copies of the new action plan for our Park. It can also be downloaded from  ParkWeb. This is the plan that Mike Stevens was so happy to tell us about at our October meeting last year and delivers the funding for all the actions we heard about earlier this meeting.