Russell Best and Ross Colliver took environmental staff from Macedon Ranges Shire Council for a walk around Barrm Birrm recently, and talked through options for the area. Michelle Wyatt is the Coordinator, Policy Implementation, Strategic Planning and Environment Department (in the middle), and William Terry (on the right) is the Envrionmental Programs and Education Officer.
They were excited to see the quality of the bush in Barrm Birrm and to hear what RCL is doing to look after it. We were delighted to hear that Council is willing to take over ownership of blocks in the Barrm Birrm area, meeting all costs of transfer of title. Funds to support this are limited, but 16 of the original 162 lots have now been handed to Council.
There have been complaints to Council from owners from time to time over limits to development, but Council is sticking by its "no development" policy for this valuable bushland. There are limited avenues for owners to get themselves out of the bind they are in, and we're pleased Council is offering support to landholders. New discussions with Trust for Nature may turn up other avenues for bringing properties in Barrm Birrm into conservation.
We pointed out that many people assume that Barrm Birrm is a State Forest, and gates and a fence would signal that this was in fact private land. There would be benefits to conservation of the area in excluding 4WDs and trail bikes, but this would have to be weighed against the cost and appropriateness of enclosing an area of private land. We said that Riddells Creek Landcare would be able to contribute funds to assist with fencing.
MRSC is embarking on improving monitoring of fauna on its reserves, with an early project the introduction of nesting boxes for phascogales and gliders. A possible site is the cluster of properties now in Council ownership in the NW area of Barrm Birrm - Russell will assess the possibilities of installing nesting boxes there. A project like that would be a good way to build interest in Barrm Birrm amongst Riddells residents, as well as confirming the presence of these animals in Barrm Birrm. As tree dwellers, there's a good chance they have eluded the predators at ground level, and are still around.
Michelle and William were also pleased to hear about NatureShare's progress and say they will get familiar with its capabilities. Michelle said she would test the possibility of MRSC contributing funds, as part of a partnership, for developing Apps for Macedon Ranges flora and fauna.
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