Work has begun to reduce the impact of willows across a one hectare stretch of riverbank, on both sides of the Mitta Mitta River, and adjacent to the historic Blue Duck Inn.
This project is part of the Victorian Government’s $248 million investment over four years (2020-2024) to improve catchment and waterway health across regional Victoria.
The project is one of 36 large scale restoration projects for priority waterways across the state and follows consultation undertaken by the North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) with the owners of the Blue Duck Inn, Friends of the Mitta Mitta, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Jaithmathang Traditional Owners and the adjoining landholder.
North East CMA project officer, Scott McDonald said the willows were being removed in late August – early September to ensure minimal inconvenience to visitors at the Blue Duck Inn site.
Mr McDonald said native species will be planted to reduce erosion and provide habitat for wildilfe, including fish, while allowing access to the river.
“The willows have been poisoned prior to their removal to ensure no living fragments flow downstream during the works,” he said.
“Strategic removal of the willows will not impact the grassy verge on the river frontage at the Blue Duck Inn. The willow stumps will be poisoned and left in the ground for riverbank stability and the machine operator will use a finishing rack attachment to leave the site tidy.”
Jeffe Aronson from project partners, Friends of the Mitta Mitta said the river frontage at the iconic Blue Duck Inn is a unique place to have a meal or drink on the deck, or simply play in the river.
"Over the years the native trees have been overtaken by invasive willows which choke out native vegetation along the downstream riverbank,” Mr Aronson said.
"Whilst seeing the stumps and bare riverbank may be confronting to some in the short term, the CMA is committed to revegetating this site with native trees like the beautiful and shady Omeo Gum, blackwoods, black sallies and more, while leaving dead willow stumps in place to stabilise the riverbank until the natives have grown."
Mr McDonald said the willow removal works would be completed before spring when the summer grass was emerging. This would ensure the site grows a good layer of grass prior to the summer months.
He said weed control would be undertaken over 12 months following willow removal to ensure the site doesn’t become re-infested with weeds.