Management Committee takes shape at Abattoir Swamp
An eager group of volunteers converged on Abattoir Swamp on Sunday 27 June 2021 to mark the start of Mitchell River's management of the wetland.
Over the course of the past year Mareeba Shire Council has discussed arrangements with the local progress association (JAMARR) and the Mitchell River group to explore options for improving the condition and public utilisation of the facility.
JAMARR have been long-term supporters and collaborators. They administered a $10,000 grant in 2018-19 to clear the main lagoon and excavate three new lagoons in an effort to improve conditions for water-loving birds. JAMARR also produced a draft Management Plan to guide ongoing efforts to enliven the wetland.
The Mitchell River group was approached to take on the legal and organisational responsibilities for the site. This was supported by JAMARR, BirdLife North Queensland, Mareeba Tribe, and the Julatten Initiative Group.
Mitchell River reached an agreement with Council in May 2021. At an executive meeting shortly after, the group approved the Terms of Reference to establish a semi-autonomous management committee that would take on the day-to-day management of the program.
The first meeting of the management committee featured robust discussion of management options for the overwhelming infestation of olive hymenachne. It was noted that cattle can be used to crash-graze certain portions of the wetland. Ongoing support and cooperation from the neighbouring graziers is seen as essential.
The group included traditional owner Ann-marie Keating of the Koko Muluridji, Wallara clan, who shared some of her early memories of walking along the Rifle Creek fishing, camping, and learning about her culture.
Mitchell River briefed the group on roles and responsibilities under the Terms of Reference. Happily, Carol Iles stepped forward to serve as the inaugural Convenor for the committee. Carol is a renowned local bird guide and owner with husband Andrew of the Kingfisher Lodge in Julatten.
In the 90's, Kingfisher Park was owned by local entrepreneur Geoff Nicholson. Geoff was the first Chair of the Abattoir Swamp Revegetation Committee when it was formed under the Wet Tropics Reforestation program (ca 1995). With Carol's installation as Convenor now, a fine tradition of leadership has been carried forward!
Stay tuned for more developments from the Abattoir Swamp Management Committee as they find their feet and establish a works program.
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