MCBEG MARCH

Trip Leader:Tony Weldon

When: 20th March 2011

Location: Wungong

Participants: 19 Adults and 2 Children. 2 visitors.

As usual we met at the Nettleton Road service station where some tried to buy the shop out for breakfast.
The area behind the servo where we used to meet has now been turned into a building site so we went around the back of the tyre place where there was good parking. We had 19 adult members and two kids, one prospective member, who brought a much appreciated trailer with him, and a visitor from Indonesia who is interested in going on runs with us as he comes to Perth quite frequently to see his kids who are at school here.

We split into two groups, one group to remove some of the remaining old fencing (which I ran) and the other to tackle the cotton bush which Keith ran. The cotton bush is a feral weed and is taking over the Park.
The fencing proved to be a problem initially as we couldn’t find any!
Plans to look for some on the previous Tuesday when Paul, Keith and I met at Wungong with TonyE and John from DEC to check out the work didn’t eventuate as we ran out of time so it was a full search job.
It didn’t take too long to find some more fencing and, by the time we had finished, we had added about a third to the huge rubbish pile we had left on previous visits.

Trevor kindly brought up his trailer also and George and Linda towed it (thanks all) as he was attacking the cotton bush. There is still a bit more fencing left but I have asked TonyE to check the locations of any remaining and also mark the fences that shouldn’t be removed as they are on private property

Keith’s team tackled the huge area of cotton bush that we were  asked to eradicate, if possible, following on from work that DEC had started using “contract labour”.    His team were expected to pull out or cut the shrubs down, painting the cut with Roundup to kill it.
It sounded easy, but on the side of a hill in quite hot weather it was exhausting work and, considering the acres of cotton bush observed throughout the park, pretty well a waste of energy.
Without Sam and his whipper-snipper fitted with a cutting blade we wouldn’t have made a noticeable mark on the area.

Keith and others felt that, as it was such hard work to make any reasonable impression on the cotton bush, it wasn’t worthwhile repeating the somewhat futile exercise of trying to pull out and paint the bush. It was decided to try spraying only,  so an area was sprayed with a strong Roundup mix in the anticipation that this will do the trick. We’ll need to check it in 3 – 4 weeks time.

The general opinion was that, if this works, then we buy some knapsack sprays and protective gear to do the areas adjacent to trees, creeks, etc and DEC looks at aerial spraying for the rest.
Thanks very much for those who came and to Keith for leading the ‘Cotton Bush Killers’.

After this weekend, I met with TonyE and we discussed the options for both the cotton bush and future work in the Park.

Somehow the cotton bush “has to go” and he suggested there were two main methods.
One was for spraying and the other for  using special “spray loppers” shears.   These allow the user to cut the plants at any height, no bending down, and as the handles are pushed in, the shears spray Roundup onto the plant. Very neat and much easier to use according to TonyE.
As we have a grant application going in, we will ask for the cash to buy some of these and also backpack spray with protective gear which he thought best used in areas where there was likely to be no collateral damage to native plants.

There are also other jobs to be done in the Park with the main one being to rehabilitate the airstrip. That’s to start at the next McBEG.  
Also working to planting in the gravel pit where we have dumped the rubbish. Both those jobs will be a lot easier than the cotton bush!
It is great to see the seedlings we planted three years ago in our first rehab area growing really well with some up to about two metres high.
One last point. The Police had been looking for a place to train their staff in off-road driving with 4WDs and trail bikes. Guess where they are using?  TonyE said that the neighbours think the Park is much quieter and without so many ferals than it used to be!

TonyW, Environment Officer

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