Over recent years extensive research into the roles of ground covering vegetation has recognised the importance of deep rooted perennial vegetation in maintaining water quality. As a result, guidelines and recommendations within national, state, regional and local planning instruments and relevant government legislation are guiding significant change in the ways that ground covering vegetation is managed.
In line with these changes Council intends to trial a modification to its management of a number of specific sites within the urban area by reducing mowing operations and increasing weed control and fire management activities. The trial will focus on urban drainage lines and creeks with a significant proportion of native grasses and trees in the following public reserves:
- Hawthornden Creek / Jacques Park, South Bathurst
- Elmo Lavis Park / Napoleon Street Reserve, Raglan and
- the lower portion of the Blayney Road Common.
The management changes will only be implemented in portions of these specific open space areas. In no case will mowing be reduced across an entire public reserve, nor will mowing activities be reduced immediately adjacent to private property, fences or other infrastructure.
Deep rooted perennial vegetation, including grasses, shrubs and trees has been shown to stabilise soils and where water moves across the ground surface it can significantly reduce the risk of erosion. It is anticipated that the change in ground cover management will reduce Bathurst’s impact upon urban salinity, by reducing stream bank collapse, minimising areas that are bare of ground cover and reducing subsequent sediment liberation which significantly reduces water quality.
Each site will be monitored to assess:
- The performance of channel beds in a mown and un-mown state
- The level of reduction in channel capacity where the bed is left un-mown, and
- The practicality of preventing or controlling the invasion of weeds and other less desirable species within the bed.
It is also intended to inform community members about ground cover management and its impacts upon the landscape, specifically with regard to urban salinity and waterway management. This will incorporate physical marking of the areas by the installation of bollards, the design and erection of information signs at each site to explain why the changes have been made and a local media campaign.