SNOWY HYDRO LTD – DONT TURN OFF SNOWY RIVERS
Two big rivers that once flowed into the Snowy River in Kosciuszko National Park are flowing again for the first time in 50 years and must not be turned off again, according to Gippsland Environment Group.
The Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers are tributaries of the upper Snowy River above Jindabyne. In 1965, as part of the construction of the Snowy Scheme, these two rivers, like many others in the Snowy Mountains, were completely diverted and sent west for hydro-electricity generation and irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin.
The waters of the Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers were collected at weirs and dropped down the 100m deep Burrungabugge diversion shaft into the Snowy-Eucumbene tunnel which directs the water of the upper Snowy River between Island bend Dam and Eucumbene Dam.
That diversion shaft has now failed due to long-term wear and tear. Snowy Hydro Ltd has had to open the weir gates and allow the Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers to flow down their natural course into the Snowy River below Island bend Dam. From there the waters flow into Jindabyne Dam.
Gippsland Environment Group is calling on the three government shareholders of Snowy Hydro Ltd to let the Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers permanently run free.
“It is an incredible sight to see rivers that were beheaded by the Snowy Scheme once again flowing down their steep mountain river beds,” said spokesperson Louise Crisp. “For sixty years the Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers have had 99% of their headwaters diverted by the Snowy Scheme.”
“It is no longer the environmental dark ages of the 1950s,” said Ms Crisp. “These rivers must remain free flowing; they are key tributaries of the Snowy River in Kosciuszko National Park. There would be no net loss of water to Snowy Hydro Ltd as the company is able to pump the water back up to Island bend Dam via the Jindabyne Dam pumping station.”
“The NSW Government is currently undertaking the first Ten-year Review of the 75-year Snowy Water Licence. If the three government shareholders of Snowy Hydro Ltd are to deliver on their commitments to sustainable water management then Licence should be amended. The Burrungabugge and Gungarlin Rivers must not be turned off like a tap,” concluded Ms Crisp.
Media enquiries contact:
Submissions to the first Ten-year Review of the 75-Year Snowy Water Licence closed 13th October 2017.
See GEG’s submission here:
GEG Submission to the 10-year Review of the Snowy Water Licence , 12.10. 2017
Threatened Species Reporting and Protection under Victorian Law
The local community and citizen scientists in Gippsland are invited to learn about using threatened species surveys to help protect Victoria’s threatened plants, animals and their habitats. An expert lawyer from Environmental Justice Australia will explain the current laws and:
- Where to find the rules relevant to species in your area
- Where to find surveying guides and maps
- What to record when surveying
- How to document and report your findings
- When you might need help from lawyers
Thursday 17th August, 6.45pm for 7.00pm start
Bairnsdale Neighbourhood House, 27 Dalmahoy Street, Bairnsdale
Environmental Justice Australia is pleased to host this workshop in collaboration with Gippsland Environment Group Inc.
If you have any questions please contact Gippsland Environment Group on 0418 516 373
The below letter was submitted to The Advertiser on 9/7/2017
NATIONALLY ENDANGERED NEW HOLLAND MOUSE INCINERATED AT PROVIDENCE PONDS FLORA AND FAUNA RESERVE
In early May, the site of a colony of the rare New Holland Mouse was incinerated in a fuel reduction burn. Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) and Forest Five Management Victoria (FFMV) carried out the burn in the Providence Ponds Flora and Fauna Reserve west of Bairnsdale.
Providence Ponds Flora and Fauna Reserve is one of only three locations in Victoria where the nationally endangered (EPBC listed) New Holland Mouse occurs.
A number of New Holland Mice had been recorded in the past two years in the area of the Reserve that was severely burned yet Heyfield DELWP/FFMV which oversaw the burn failed to consider the welfare of this rare species locals believe.
“The fire was extremely hot due to a very dry autumn and the Heathland and Banksia woodland was intensely burned right down to sand,” said Louise Crisp from Gippsland Environment Group. “Highway traffic was reduced to one car at a time under police control due to poor visibility from the dense smoke. This was not an ecological burn.”
Members of Gippsland Environment Group and the Mammal Survey Group re-entered the burned area a month after the burn and located the GPS co-ordinates of the sites where the New Holland Mice had been captured.
“All the New Holland Mouse sites were completely incinerated except one which was partially incinerated,” said Louise Crisp.
“The intensity and scale of the burn in locations where the rare New Holland Mouse has been so recently recorded was shocking,” said Nancy McMurray from the Mammal Survey Group “Did DELWP staff actually, consult their biodiversity database? Why did Parks Victoria allow such a burn carried to be out in the Flora and Fauna Reserve with so little regard for threatened species?”
“Since the burn apparently one or more New Holland Mice have been recorded on camera in an unburnt section in the centre of the block but as New Holland Mice have a very small home range of only 0.4-1.4ha it is clear that many of the mice previously recorded have perished,” said Ms Crisp. “Did DELWP/FFMV have authority to destroy a protected species?”
A report by Trust for Nature, which had funded the surveys for New Holland Mice in 2015 and 2016, recommended modification of burning practices in the Reserve including reducing the patch size of burns to protect the New Holland Mouse. New Holland Mice were captured in a wide range of post-fire vegetation age classes including long unburnt vegetation but none were found in a block burnt 3 years previously. The report noted that it is vegetation structure rather than time since fire per se that influences abundance of New Holland Mice.
“Did Heyfield DELWP/FFMV consider the report’s recommendations and include them in the burn plan? We don’t know because DELWP has failed to provide the burn plan to the public despite requests” said Ms Crisp.
“In addition more than a hundred trees around the boundary of the burn were also felled or pushed over by dozer. Did Parks Victoria authorise DELWP/FFMV to destroy these important habitat trees in the Reserve?”
“This burn raises serious questions about Parks Victoria capacity to maintain and protect the biodiversity of this Reserve and many others in the State. National Parks and Reserves contribute 50% of the burn target in Victoria yet Parks Victoria leaves the burn operations in the hands of DELWP/FFMV who have neither the biodiversity staff nor apparently the inclination to protect threatened species and ecosystems. Continued burning at the scale, frequency and intensity that is currently occurring throughout East Gippsland is a major threat to the survival of indigenous species and ecosystems,” said Ms McMurray.
A key recommendation of the Trust for Nature report suggested that: DELWP and Parks Victoria develop an ecologically sensitive fire management plan for Providence Ponds that targets the conservation of the New Holland Mouse populations given the significance of these localities for the species’ conservation in a state-wide context.
“Gippsland Environment Group urges Parks Victoria to develop an ecological fire management plan for Providence Ponds as a matter of priority before the next autumn burn season,” said Ms Crisp
Gippsland Environment Group is still waiting on answers to questions sent to Heyfield DELWP/FFMV and Parks Victoria over a month ago regarding the Providence Ponds burn.
Gippsland Environment Group
Dear Ms Eagleson,
Gippsland Environment Group is very concerned about a scheduled burn due to be ignited in East Gippsland along the Ramsar listed Lake Tyers downstream of the township of Nowa Nowa ( Nowa Nowa –Nelsons Rd – 2BNN0029).
This planned burn (260ha) is located in Lake Tyers State Park and borders the Nowa Nowa arm of Lake Tyers, a part of the Ramsar listed Gippsland Lakes. It has not been burnt for more than 60 years. Previous DELWP burns in the Lake Tyers State Park have incinerated a Sooty owl nest and burnt vegetation right down to the lake shore.
Another burn adjacent to the township destroyed a number of large habitat trees and the amenity of the Nowa Nowa Mountain Bike trail.
We wish to respectfully request an immediate pause on any plans to ignite the burn and that DELWP undertake on-ground surveys to ensure the protection of the site’s ecological values:
- Current conditions are very dry and reliance on the moisture differential to protect the Warm Temperate Rainforest stands and Riparian Forest, combined with use of aerial incendiaries risks incinerating the whole area;
- The burn plan has not excluded a section of the Limestone Box woodland in the southeast corner and the dozed boundary has crossed through the EVC;
- There are a number of Yellow-bellied Glider feed trees in the south-east gully bordering the dozed fire break-line at S37° 45.8’ E148°7.8 and Yellow bellied gliders were heard immediately west of here on night of 15.2.17;
- Yellow-bellied gliders were also seen and heard on western side of Nelsons Rd (across from the cleared land-forest boundary on east side road) on night of 15.2.17. Locals have frequently heard and seen yellow-bellied gliders point crossing Nelsons Rd at this point entering to and from the burn area;
- There is an eagles nest on the spur running east from the mouth of Ironstone Creek at S37°44.30 E148°.6.24. There also other Yellow-bellied glider feed trees in this area;
- An extensive stand of Silver Banksia is located in the gully that runs east on the southern side of the eagle’s nest;
- Many large old Saw Banksias occur throughout the burn area but there are many of varying age as well, burning this site will eliminate this age differentiation and destroy a key food source for nectar-feeding mammals;
- There are many old habitat trees throughout the whole burn area but DELWP have only raked or dozed around those hollow trees immediately adjacent to the road;
- Long unburnt forest in East Gippsland is preferred habitat of potoroos and bandicoots but no DELWP mammal surveys have been conducted;
- Long unburnt forest is now a rarity in Gippsland and must be protected.
It is unfortunate that our request to walk through the burn area with DELWP burn staff was refused, this area is of very high ecological significance.
We urge the Department to intervene to ensure that this burn is re-assessed and the biodiversity at the site is completely protected.
Gippsland Environment Group