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Large scale willow control for the Little Plains River

More than 10 kilometres of stem injected willows have been removed from both banks of the Little Plains River over the past two months.

This large scale removal program is being coordinated by South East Local Land Services with three local contractor teams using chainsaw operators to fall trees and excavators to extract the willow debris where it is safe to do so.

South East Local Land Services Officers, Leon Miners said seven riverfront landholders have been involved in burning the debris piles which are stacked outside of the floodplain.

"The works are part of the 'Water for Rivers' Project', that is aiming to achieve over 250 kilometres of willow control for the Bombala-Delegate catchment," Mr Miners said.

"Willows along the Little Plains River were increasingly becoming very dense infestations. These invasive weeds had choked the channel causing blockages, bank erosion and were threatening infrastructure such as low level bridges and pump sites. 

Their density was also suppressing native vegetation growth. 

"Willows growing instream take a lot of water out of the river. Recent CSIRO studies have shown willows growing instream can take up more than 5 mega-litres of water per hectare of willow canopy area per year."

Mr Miners said Little Plains River willow control works have been on-going for almost 20 years by landholders in the Little Plains and Craigie Landcare Group.

"The costly nature of control works and density of willows along the river has limited the scope of these works along isolated stretches of river," Mr Miners said.

"The Water for Rivers project aims to undertake a top down approach to willow and blackberry control – starting at the headwaters and working methodically downstream."

The initial phase (over the past two years) has included stem injection of more than 80% of willows along the river. Selective mechanical removal works commenced along 4 kilometres of the river in 2014. This year's program builds on previous control works and will significantly reduce the load of debris timber in the river."

Funding for this stage of the project was secured through the NSW Government's Catchment Action NSW program. It has enabled an extra $120,000, plus in-kind contributions from all participating land managers to be put towards achieving project outcomes.

Local land manager Alf Sebire said after nearly 20 years of Landcare involvement and private investment in tackling the problem it was fantastic to at last see the final stages of the river being freed of this highly invasive weed.

"Already we can see the platypus movement increase and native vegetation recovering," Mr Sebire said.

"Flow, water quality and access to the river has improved and the channels have opened up."

For more information please contact Leon Miners, South East Local Land Services on (02) 6452 1455.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Leon Miners 
02 6452 1455
Leon.Miners@lls.nsw.gov.au

Shannon Brennan
02 6491 7823
Shannon.brennan@lls.nsw.gov.au