THE only creature that survives in the upper Molong Creek is a pest species of mosquito fish, but a group of dedicated landholders, with the help of a $58,000 grant, plan to change all that and restore the once-thriving ecosystem.
In the 1950s the creek was bustling with native fish species, including trout, and was free flowing into the Molong River, but over time the crack willow sunk its roots into the system and slowly choked it to death.
Scientist and Upper Molong Creek Landcare Group Inc member Andrew Rawson says after the 12 landholders kill-off and remove as much of the willows as possible, it will not be long before the area is restored to its original state.
“The area was recognised as one of the worst willow infestations,” he said.
Group secretary and project manager Liz Butler said the process she went through to apply for the grant could be likened to writing a mini thesis.
The group will not be able to eradicate the willow, but they will be able to remove enough to bring the flows back and with native fish and bugs comes predators for the mosquito fish eggs.
Dr Rawson said the willow roots formed a type of cup in the ground which pooled the water so, instead of flowing, the creek became a series of stagnant puddles.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee announced the funding as part of a visit to the site yesterday and encouraged any community organisations looking to undertake similar projects to apply for funding through the NSW Government’s Environmental Restoration and Rehabilitation Grants program.
“Fourteen sites over 12 adjacent properties will be targeted during this program, which will include the systematic removal of salix fragilis from 4.4 kilometres of creek, followed by replanting of 4000 endemic plants and monitoring and eradication of willow regrowth,” he said.
“Through these projects, we also aim to improve the capacity of communities and organisations to protect, restore and enhance the environment.”
Applications will close on Friday, September 19 at 5pm and can be made online at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/grants/restoration.htm