I have just been for a walk to the site to check out the effects of yesterday’s flooding. I have attached some photos that give an idea of the extent of the flooding over the project site. It is fortunate that neither planting nor mulching had begun as it would have been washed away almost entirely. The amount of water that has flowed over the site is staggering - Frawley Fields must have been one huge inland lake at the height of yesterday’s cloud burst.
The canal at the base of Frawley Fields broke its banks early on and the rushing waters cut huge swathes into the “Common Reed” beds. Sewerage from the treatment plants appears to have overflowed into the canal as it really smells and is dark grey in colour despite the fresh water flowing through. The newly proposed section of the Koala trail is about 30cm underwater and deeper along its length well over gumboot height!!
Purple Swamphens, Dusky Moorhens and a White Faced Heron were seemingly pleased with the expansion to their watery realm as I walked through. It is an absolute boon for a wetland recovering from recent drought and fire and will provide significant food resources for fauna both feathered and furry through to the rains of next summer. As the waters recede over the coming months, timed with the arrival of spring it will leave a rich moist bed of alluvial silt for the germination of seedlings right across the reserve both indigenous and introduced.
Apart from the canal banks much of the areas that the Green Army Team has been working on for the last 8 weeks is underwater. Significantly the water levels are far higher than those seen after Tropical Cyclone Marcia and the rain just prior to Easter. Given we have entered a cooler phase of the year I am estimating that it will take at least 6-8 weeks for the areas previously worked on to dry out sufficiently to allow revegetation works to begin leaving only about a month of the projects time frame remaining..
This changes things dramatically. Whilst I had already decided over the next month to focus the Teams efforts along the canal as approximately 1.5 ha of the project site was still underwater now I would estimate 90% is in that condition. Regretfully this would appear to seriously affect our ability to restore the 4ha as planned. The team will continue to work along the canal removing weeds, stabilising erosion and planting and we are a lot better informed on the paths that flood waters take through the area. However, I think by projects end in the last week of July we will have done well to have restored the 2ha that have already been worked on. If we can get assistance to cut a fire break around our completed works that will help secure its future in the short term.
I have been wondering what to take from this event. Definitely we are learning that this is indeed a wetland and it obeys the weather’s dictates and certainly not ours. It does appear that because of this our concerns over delays in having rubbish removed, mulch delivered and its effect on the projects time lines have been set at nought. Our future works will certainly be undertaken with a watchful eye on the weather. Yet much has already been achieved and not the least of it the experience the team is gaining. They have forged a strong bond with each other and the project and are putting a lot of themselves into their work. Their enthusiasm this week as they began to cut and poison one of South East Queensland worst environmental weeds the “Broad Leafed Pepper” was inspiring. This project whilst far from its completion date has already achieved so much - with a little help from the weather it promises to achieve so much more.