RARE and precious native plants have been killed by the illegal application of chemical spray at the Peter O'Rorke Native Grass and Wildflower Reserve on the foreshore at Lake Bolac.
A three metre wide strip at the bottom of the community run plantation has been sprayed from a vehicle travelling along the road. Police and Ararat Rural City Environment Officer, Deidre Andrews, have been informed. A clear breach of the law has occurred as it is an offence to cause wilful damage using chemical spray.
Project co-ordinator, Nolene Fraser, is extremely disappointed that the hard work carried out by volunteers to establish the plantation over the past three years, has been set back by such thoughtless action, while David Franklin, of Grassland Flora, Chatsworth, said it was a blatant example of destruction at a community site of what goes on in a broader context of damage to remnant native grasslands.
Una Allender, secretary of the Eel Festival, is shocked that this damage has occurred especially after the recent efforts of community members to weed and mulch the plantation and to prepare a section of it for a controlled burn.
The controlled burn will encourage the native species and help reduce the weed burden.
"It is hard to believe that anyone could spray this area accidentally, especially with a very prominent sign explaining what is planted on the site and why," Ms Allender said.
Native grasses and wildflowers have become critically endangered since European settlement. The plantation arose from the 2011 Eel Festival focus on 'Biodiversity of indigenous grasslands -It's the little things that count'.
Lake Bolac College students were treated to talks from experts, wrote poetry and printed lino cuts under the guidance of Dunkeld artist, Trevor Flinn. Various community working bees established the plantation in two stages. Weed mat was laid and species of local provenance were planted.
Ongoing maintenance of the plantation has been carried out by volunteers. In retrospect, the use of weed-mat has been revised as it provided the perfect bed for setting seed from invasive weeds. A new management plan for the site has involved volunteers hand weeding a 30 metre section to remove silver-grass and other weeds. This area will remain as a control for comparison with the rest of the site which has been carefully spray topped ready for burning as part of the CFA management plan for the foreshore.
Further planting is planned in May 2015.
Volunteers will be invited to assist. If you would like to help, please contact Lake Bolac Information and Business Centre on 5350 2204.