COVID 19: FOBIF walks cancelled

With great regret we have suspended the 2020 FOBIF Walks Program due to the COVID-19 health crisis and the current regulations and restrictions.  The April geology tour is therefore cancelled, and subsequent walks are also called off. When the program resumes we’ll post details on this site.

The April FOBIF committee meeting will not take place and future meetings will be managed by electronic link-up.

Please continue to follow our web page as it’s a great way to keep in touch; and we hope that you all enjoy our wonderful bush over the coming months.

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Bunkered down? Here’s something to read that’s not depressing

Finding your activities a bit restricted by new regulations connected to the pandemic? Well, there’s always reading, and as it happens the March issue of the Wombat Forestcare newsletter is out. As usual it’s full of good stuff. You can find it here.

Article topics include the Powerful Owl, the rare Bossiaea vombata, tree creepers and Greater Gliders. In these tough times it’s good to  get a bit of inspiration. Here’s Alison Pouliot at the conclusion of her article about fungi in Australia and North America:

‘I am constantly inspired by the Australians I work with from farmers to foresters to conservationists. I admire their flexibility and openness to innovation and new ideas, as well as their willingness to embrace change – that is, their response-ability. The conservation movement urges us to take greater responsibility for our actions. ‘Responsibility’ is sometimes misinterpreted in the context of blame and culpability, or power and control. However, a more positive take on the word revives our response-ability, that is, our ability to respond. We live in the most highly variable and unpredictable climate in the world. We live in an ancient landscape that has shifted and shaped through time and is unforgiving. It is the challenge of uncertainty that drives creative thinking, fuels response-ability and action. Australians’ resilience and response-ability could be our greatest contribution to climate change action within Australia and beyond.’

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Tree trashing: chapter 10,000

The pic below shows a stretch of the Railway Dam road north of the Fryers Ridge Road. Significant numbers of sizeable trees have been cut down: ‘hazardous tree removal’ in preparation for DELWP’s upcoming management burn.

This exercise is a reminder of the Department’s tree massacre on Mount Alexander last year, in which we were informed (after numerous enquiries) that all trees had been checked by an arborist before removal. And, further back, we had some bizarre lopping and felling of small trees along Forest Creek , supposedly for safety reasons.

With the best will in the world, we’re getting sceptical of the kind of expertise that waves a wand over these activities…

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Tunnel Hill is set to go

DELWP is about to conduct its Tunnel Hill management burn (CAS 073), in the area bounded by Railway Dam road, Fryers Ridge Road and Tunnel Hill track. You can find an interactive map of the area here.

In the zone, near the Railway Dam road: the stuff in the foreground is rich litter habitat…or dangerous fuel…or both: choices about how to regard this kind of landscape govern approaches to fire safety and forest health.

The fire zone is a particularly interesting part of the Fryers Forest. It includes the interpreted Junction Walk established by the Department some years ago, and is popular with free campers.

The intention of this exercise is to ‘To develop fuel reduced areas of sufficient width and continuity to reduce the speed and intensity of bushfires.’ Ecological concerns are definitely in the background. We’ll see if they feature at all. The preliminary tree clearance is not a hopeful sign.

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Two sides of a track…

In the light of the upcoming management burn in Kalimna Park, here are a couple of photos to brood on. They were taken at a point on the Circuit Walk track last week. One side of the track was burned by DELWP five years ago, and looks like this:

Fuel reduced bush: plenty of flammable Cassinia and other understorey plants…

 

The other side was not burned, and looks like this:

Directly opposite the photo above: unburnt bush, with apparently lots less fuel.

 

On the face of it, the unburned section has less fuel than the ‘fuel reduced’ section. The photos illustrate the complexity of fuel reduction exercises. Contrary to widespread belief, fuel reduction burns don’t vacuum up all the fuel, leaving it nice and safe: they may provoke prolific regrowth, and even increase the fuel load. That’s why detailed research  should accompany every burn, to show all aspects of the exercise, ecological and safety related. This, of course, would cost a lot of money…

DELWP has put a lot of research effort into the upcoming burn, perhaps provoked by the efforts of community workers to document the presence of the Copper Butterfly. Its preparation works for this exercise have provoked some disquiet. We’ll report on these in future posts.

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Recognize this?

Here’s the latest in our never ending series on dumb rubbish dumping in our bushlands. That pair of display boards is very distinctive. They look like they’re designed to fit on the back of a truck for advertising purposes. Surely someone could recognise them and trace the dump to its source?

Rubbish dumped near the Fryers Ridge Road/Old Coach road junction, March 25: the display boards look quite distinctive…could they be recognisable?

 

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Photographers of the Goldfields show closes early

Due to the Coronavirus the Photographers of the Goldfields 2020 exhibition at the Newstead Arts Hub show will not be open for the final weekend in March.

People wishing to pick up purchases can do so at the Arts Hub on Sunday March 29 from 1-4 pm. Or if you prefer, you can contact the photographer to make alternative arrangements: Bronwyn Silver 044 875 1111, Patrick Kavanagh 043 766 3345, Frances Cincotta 049 110 8756, Geoff Park 041 813 8632 and Janet Barker 043 900 3469. 

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First walk for 2020

In perfect weather last Sunday a medium sized group started out at Mike Reeves’ property southwest of Elphinstone and completed a 6 km circuit through local bush. Much of the walk was on kangaroo tracks. Highlights were seeing many wattles including Spreading Wattle in flower and large swathes of Hill Flat-pea (formerly named Handsome Flat-pea Platylobium formosum). Frances Cincotta helped with plant identification and Mike shared the produce of his plum and pear trees as well as opening his house to walkers for lunch. Thanks Mike for leading this first walk for the year for FOBIF.

Next month we will have car excursion around Mount Franklin and the Guildford Plateau led by geologist. Clive Willman. See walks page for more detail.

Photos below are by Joy Cluster (first 5), Jane Mitchell (next 2) and Bronwyn Silver

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Show continues

The Photographers of the Goldfields exhibition at the Newstead Arts Hub is continuing for the next two weekends, finishing on Sunday March 29. Opening hours are 10 am to 4 pm. (Arts Open 2020 and the Newstead Open Studios finished on March 15.) Enquiries Bronwyn Silver 04487511.

One of Frances Cincotta’s stunning photos in the Hub show. Clematis microphylla – SMALL-LEAF CLEMATIS in seed, Mt Tarrengower 17 Dec 2016

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Weeds: have your say

The Tarrengower Cactus Control group has created a very short online survey to try to gauge how other community members and groups within the Mount Alexander Shire feel about noxious weed management within our Shire.

Are you concerned about the spread of noxious weeds in our local natural environment?

Do you think enough weed management is carried out by our local Shire?

Would you like our Shire to treat our natural environment with a greater priority?

Would you like to make a comment about local weed control?

You can find the survey here.

There are 10 simple questions and it should take only 5 minutes to complete.

The group will collate the answers at the end of May 2020. If there’s a general dissatisfaction with the work done by our Shire, then they’ll try to coordinate some action to persuade the Council to increase its priority of our natural environment in forthcoming budgets.

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