Rockhampton's Calum Boggs and Brendon Heaslip are part of the Work for the Dole program at Neato which saw them pull metres of weeds by hand in Yeppoon, in partnership with Capricornia Catchments.
Rockhampton's Calum Boggs and Brendon Heaslip are part of the Work for the Dole program at Neato which saw them pull metres of weeds by hand in Yeppoon, in partnership with Capricornia Catchments. Amy Haydock ROK

Weed war: Council wages battle on pests in local waterway

ONE of Rockhampton's most pristine creeks is the site of a pitched battle of council versus invasive weed species.

Regarded as one of the most beautiful and unspoilt watercourses in the Rockhampton region, Frenchmans Creek, situated in North Rockhampton, running from Frenchville Road to Lakes Creek Road, was under attack from a number of pest species.

This weed invasion was attributed to the spread of pest seeds through the waterways during recent flooding events, forcing Rockhampton Region Council to declared war against the pests.

READ: Rockhampton Council throws support behind 6000 plant project

Soldiers from the Townsville based 3 Combat Engineer Regiment clearing downed trees from Frenchmans Creek in Rockhampton after Cyclone Marcia devastated the region in 2015.
Soldiers from the Townsville based 3 Combat Engineer Regiment clearing downed trees from Frenchmans Creek in Rockhampton after Cyclone Marcia devastated the region in 2015. Chris Ison ROK270215cengineers6

Control efforts have been ongoing since May 2015 but a recent inspection of the creek regrowth observed of a number of invasive species including including Feral Leucaena, Castor Oil, Lions Tail, Elephant Grass, Lantana, Singapore Daisy, Devils Fig and Yellow Oleander (Captain cook trees).

The weed Leucaena, photographed at a lookout in Yeppoon.
The weed Leucaena, photographed at a lookout in Yeppoon. MALCOLM WELLS

At a meeting on March 6, councillors requested a report on clearing the pests be prepared as quickly as possible.

Thursday's council meeting received an update from their front line pest management officers who provided options for follow up work.

In the council's listed budget implications, it said the initial control of invasive weeds along Frenchman's Creek would take a team of four to five people up to three weeks.

READ: Weed or plant identification

Devils Fig (Solanum torvum)
Devils Fig (Solanum torvum) Contributed

If council was to tackle this with their own Pest Management Unit, this would result in other work in the region being undertaken by the unit having to cease for that duration including continuation of the surveillance program in the Marmor/ Bajool area, weed control on the Fitzroy River or lagoons systems, weed control on other council land and enforcement actions.

To offset this issue it was recommended that council engaged a contractor to work with council's Pest Management Officers to control all invasive weeds along the entire length of Frenchman's Creek in the 2018- 2019 budget.

Pennisetum purpureum, also known as Bana grass, Napier grass, Elephant grass or Uganda grass, is a species of perennial tropical grass native to the African grasslands.
Pennisetum purpureum, also known as Bana grass, Napier grass, Elephant grass or Uganda grass, is a species of perennial tropical grass native to the African grasslands. Contributed

They also recommended that "officers explore opportunities to secure Skilling for Queensland funding to engage trainees to undertake conservation and land management course competencies in this system”.

"The inclusion of additional trainees under a successful application for Skilling for Queensland program in partnership with the Central Queensland Multi-Cultural Association would ensure additional longer term maintenance in this area could be achieved without major impacts on existing Pest Management programs.

"Approved contractor maintenance and/or a specific trainee work program would ensure that council will meet key objectives of the Biosecurity Act 2014 within the Frenchman's Creek system.”

There was also a need for follow up work to be completed which would take a team of two to three people up to two weeks to complete.

Photo of a Lantana plant.
Photo of a Lantana plant. Contributed

The report stated the pest control goals could be achieved within the expenditure of the 2018/2019 operational budget.

The requirement for the council to manage invasive pest plant species is a stated requirement in the Biosecurity Act 2014 and any chemical control of the weeds would need be conducted in accordance with the requirements of council's staff commercial operator's licenses and the Agricultural Chemicals Distribution Control Act 1966.



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