Powlett River/Kugerungmome Project
Published: 10 May 2023

What a difference a year makes. Community and agency partners recently gathered in Dalyston for their annual catch up on progress made on the Powlett River/Kugerungmome Partnerships project in the past year and results were impressive. 

The project is a joint initiative led by West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) and involving Bunurong Land Council, Bass Coast Landcare Network, Birdlife Australia, Friends of Hooded Plover Bass Coast, Trust for Nature, and Parks Victoria.

Each group is playing their part across the project which has the overall goal of protecting and enhancing the catchment from the Bass hills to the coast. The day included presentations from these key groups with highlights and learnings shared. 

“This project is built on a strong history of collaboration and we plan to build on this wonderful legacy,” said Paula Camenzuli, Natural Resource Management Strategic Planner for West Gippsand CMA.

“Working together in true partnership and involving community and school students is where the power lies – we can achieve and learn so much more when we do it together and support each other. The community, wildlife and environment are the winners.”

In the upper reaches of the catchment, Trust for Nature and Bass Coast Landcare Network are working with landholders to conserve and understand the endangered Giant Gippsland earthworm through research and enhancing habitat.

Along the river and its tributaries, Bass Coast Landcare Network and West Gippsland CMA are partnering with landholders, community and local schools to fence and revegetate the waterway to protect and rehabilitate Bridge, Woolshed, Lance, and Foster Creeks and the Powlett River reaches. 

Across the year, they worked with seven landholders to revegetate 33.2 hectares, install 3,050 metres of stock exclusion fencing and put 45,000 indigenous plants in the ground to connect over eight kilometres across the catchment.

“When you put it all together, the project is getting a lot of plants in the ground and a big jump from last year. “I’m stoked to be delivering the project to link and repair waterways across the catchment,” Joel Kilgour, NRM Project Officer for Bass Coast Landcare Network.

The group took a trip to see the change in the landscape at a site on Bridge Creek and the change in just one year through fencing and planting was astounding.

Trust for Nature is proud to be delivering two projects near Archies Creek where 32 hectares of remnant vegetation remains on adjoining properties.

“This project has come about at the most opportunistic time,” said John Hick, Trust for Nature’s Regional Manager, West Gippsland.

“The Trust is working with landholders to collectively tackle large weed invasions to promote natural regeneration with planting planned for this Spring.”

“It is a once in a many decade opportunity to help landholders to restore a diversity of habitats – that has suffered decades of weed invasion. We can reduce the decline and have already started making a really big difference. It’s a wonderful turning point for us.”

Down at the coast where the river meets the sea, Bass Coast Landcare Network and West Gippsland CMA are partnering with BirdLife Australia and Bass Coast Friends of the Hooded Plover volunteers to protect beach nesting shorebirds – especially the threatened Hooded Plover.

The Landcare Network delivered a program of targeted fox control with six ‘pulses’ of trapping and baiting. For the first time, volunteers assisted the program by noting any signs of fox activity as part of their nest monitoring. BirdLife Australia also put motion sensing cameras at three nests to help to understand why nests fail.

Parks Victoria, BirdLife Australia, West Gippsland CMA, Landcare Networks and volunteers also combined efforts to host community education events to raise awareness of these threatened birds. Information stalls and giveaways targeted at beach users and their dogs to promote how we can all share the beaches through observing signage and respecting measures to protect the birds as they nest.

These combined efforts were very positive with eight chicks fledging from Powlett River/Kugerungmome compared with five last season. This was largely attributed to the focus on fox control.

“I want to give a big thank you to the Landcare groups and West Gippsland CMA, we are exceptionally grateful. In my 18 years of watching these birds closely it has been the best year,” said Steve Johnson – Friends of the Hooded Plover – Bass Coast.

Other highlights of this joint initiative are working with local school students to learn about the cultural heritage of the region and ongoing relationships with the fabulous landholders along the waterway.

It was also noted that Black Swans had been observed nesting in the estuary for the first time – a positive sign and great reward for partners and community working together.

This project is funded by the Victorian Government’s Our Catchments Our Communities program. 

10 May, 2023

Powlett River/Kugerungmome partners and community gathering.
Powlett School visit May 2023
Powlett School students with Bunurong Land Council On Country team member Naomi
Joel Kilgour from BCLN with landholder Clive Hollins.