People power for the Powlett
Published: 20 June 2022

Partnerships in action is what West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) is all about and the Powlett River/Kugerungmome Partnerships Project is the latest example of how many hands can make light work for the environment.

The multi-faceted project is integrated in that it brings many stakeholders together to work on projects for mutual benefit to the overall catchment.  Project partners recently gathered in Dalyston to share information about their role in the partnership, learn from each other, and give support and advice.

Paula Camenzuli, Natural Resource Management Strategic Planner for WGCMA said: “What we are trying to achieve with the Powlett River/Kugerungmome Partnerships Project is to have a holistic, integrated view of the entire Powlett catchment from the southern slopes of the Strzelecki Ranges to the estuary, where it meets Bass Strait in Kilcunda.”

The three-year project has several, integrated parts including enhancing waterways through weed removal, fencing and revegetation. These activities help to improve the health of the Powlett River and its tributaries, create habitat and corridors for wildlife, and increase biodiversity in the catchment area.

A key outcome of the project is caring for and raising awareness of threatened species such as the Giant Gippsland Earthworm in the hills and Hooded Plovers on the beaches. Restoring native vegetation and removing weed infestation on select properties with conservation covenants to ensure they are protected forever will also be undertaken.

Essential to the project has been consultation with Traditional Owners and key project partners, the Bunurong Land Council from the outset. The Land Council gave permission for the Bunurong language name of Kugerungmome to be used alongside Powlett River and have created a painting that symbolises the river and its story, which will be used in communications across the life of the project.

Other local project partners include Bass Coast Landcare NetworkParks VictoriaTrust for Nature, landholders and community groups.

Rivers connect places, communities and people. The integrated nature of the initiative uses the passion people have for their local area and the power of connections to expand the reach and impact that could not be achieved with single agencies working in isolation.

The Powlett River catchment has been identified as a priority area in both the West Gippsland Regional Catchment Strategy and Regional Waterway Strategy. It has a total catchment area of 50,800 hectares and six main tributaries, of which Foster Creek is the most upstream, followed by Lance, West, Archies, Bridge and Woolshed Creeks.  Land-use in the catchment is largely agricultural and is dominated by dairy and beef production. Lance Creek reservoir supplies water to the Wonthaggi, Inverloch and Cape Patterson townships.

This project is supported by WGCMA through funding from the Victorian Government’s Our Catchments, Our Communities Program.