This was a day that many people in the local community had long been waiting for!
On Friday the 9th of May 2014, forty-five willing volunteers from several community groups and environmental organisations from both Victoria and SA descended on the Nobles Rocks area within Discovery Bay Coastal Park. The forecast wasn’t great, and the weather looked ominous, but thankfully the rains stayed away – unlike those heavy downpours of a week earlier that had caused the outlet to start flowing much sooner than in previous years.
The first stage of the restoration trial project involved getting the local community together to help construct a low-level temporary sandbag weir structure, initially at the most accessible and feasible location in this dynamic coastal environment. This hands-on trial method has been chosen because previous studies to model the likely inundation impacts of hydrological restoration have been hampered by a lack of accurate topographical (ie. elevation) data. Unlike many other more open or cleared areas where we can use digital elevation data (from LiDAR) to accurately predict inundation, the thick vegetation types of this coastal environment obscure accurate height readings from the air, and make this technique less reliable.
So we have gone back to basics, and are using a staged trial process to progressively record and measure impacts on the ground, in real time by charting the response of the water itself – as well as a range of associated ecological measures. In this particular instance (working in such a small portion of a much larger, dynamic wetland system), this is the lowest risk and most cost-effective way to inform and progress hydrological restoration planning for Long Swamp.
So, enough of the background… I’m sure you are wondering how the day went?
The fact that the outlet had already started flowing was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because it impacted on our ability to secure the base of the structure firmly into the (now boggy) ground when preparing the site for the works. A blessing because there is nothing like seeing the water respond in real time to what you are doing… and this in itself proved to be very informative.
It started simply enough, with the front edge of the structure prepared in time for when the the volunteers arrived. Then over the next 2-3 hours the process unfolded, as illustrated in the photo sequence below (please click to enlarge and watch the slide show).
I will provide another update next week, giving more detail of the things we encountered (and had to adapt our plans to suit) in the process of building the trial structure, and an overview of the many things we learnt in just one day!
Stay tuned for more to come….
PS – A massive thank you to everyone who came along from the following groups or organisations:
Nelson Coastcare and Nelson Men’s Shed (14) – Leila, Mardi, Christina, Trevor, John, Ian, Ron, Bill, Russell, Rod, Graeme, Cathy, Trish and Neil
Friends of the Great South West Walk (1) – Gordon
Portland Field Naturalists Club (2) – Janet and Jo
Tarragal Landcare (1) – Gary
Mt Gambier Area Friends of Parks (8) – Helen, Ian, Malcolm, Liam, Jake, Christian, Ken, Katrina and Russell
Port MacDonnell Landcare (1) – Peter
Parks Victoria (6) – Dave, Steve, Daniel, Levi, Tommy and Daniel
Glenelg Hopkins CMA (2) – Jarred and Ryan
Deakin University (1) – Brien
Birdlife SE SA (1) – Bryan
Nature Glenelg Trust (8) – Rose, Jess, Jonathan, Lauren V, Lauren K, Lachie F, Lachie H and Mark.