A group of landholders have proven that working together has better outcomes than working alone when it comes to managing the challenges of the dynamic King River.
Seven landholders along a stretch of the mid King River have banded together to address the risks of future river channel change, protect a wetland and manage willows.
The Mid King River Action Group (MKRAG) was formed by local landholders who were concerned about the King River between Moyhu and Docker, in particular the likelihood of the river changing its course out of the existing main channel, also known as an avulsion.
The North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) was keen to work with the landholders on the King River floodplain because of the complex river processes taking place, and commissioned Alluvium Consulting to undertake a geomorphic analysis along a key stretch of the river.
The analysis highlighted two avulsion sites at two existing King River anabranches, one known as Centre Stream and an active breakout into Meadow Creek. It also identified several options to stabilise vulnerable sections of the King River and increase river channel capacity by controlling and removing willows.
MKRAG secretary Sue Leavold said: “It was critical to have the technical report early on. We referred to it all the time. It gave us a good background on what was required to be done.”
“Ultimately, what was going to happen was the King River was going to divert to the centre stream avulsion, leaving four landholders with irrigation pumps without access to the King River. A wetland with a covenant on it was also at risk from the King River avulsion into Meadow Creek,” Mrs Leavold said.
In August 2016, MKRAG prepared an expression of interest for the North East CMA’s 2016/17 Riparian Incentives funding program, an initiative of the Victorian Government’s Regional Riparian Action Plan, and were successful. The Plan is part of a $222 million investment by the Victorian Government to improve the health of waterways and catchments.
The incentives required landholders to enter a management agreement that outlined the responsibilities of both the landholders and the CMA. In April and May this year, North East CMA completed the in-stream works, removing large debris blockages and woody weeds within and along the banks of the river and bank stabilisation work, resulting in more than 40 shed-sized piles of willows which will be burnt next year. The landholders will undertake fencing, tree planting and installing squirrel glider nest boxes in the coming 12 months.
“The opportunity to work together with the targeted incentive program was there and as landholders we understood what would happen if work wasn’t done,” Mrs Leavold said.
“Given the long, wet 2016 winter and steady flood flow from the King into Meadow Creek, this work probably saved the river from changing course and flowing through the covenanted wetland. The works opened up the main King River channel and reduced the energy of water flowing across the bank at the avulsion site.
“We couldn’t have done it without the expertise of North East CMA. We’re delighted with the outcomes and look forward to seeing the work continue.”