Blog Archives

EHP calls tenders to bulldoze huge dam wall near Cooktown; 30,000 tonnes of potential sediment runoff

The fallout from the 2016 acquisition of Springvale Station at Lakeland continues after the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection called for tenders to demolish a 1200 megalitre irrigation dam on the property.

Last year the EPH was caught out when a neighbour complained of long silt plumes found in the permanent East Normanby River after the department began siphoning water from the $400,000 dam into the river.

The river eventually drains into Princess Charlotte Bay and onto the Great Barrier Reef.

This massive irrigation dam costing $400,000 to construct will soon be bulldozed by EHP, by removing an estimated 30,000 cubic metres of earth in the wall. An engineer predicts this soil could eventually end up in the river system and be deposited onto the Great Barrier Reef.

 

The water was left to run across 150 metres of soil between the dam bank and the river, gouging one metre channels in the earth creating many hundreds of tonnes of sediment which flowed into the river.

A local engineer estimated the wall would contain 30,000 cubic metres of compacted earth, when removed could eventually end up in the river system.

The hydrologist who designed the dam for the previous owners said the dam wall was sound and in no way would have breached after heavy rain events.

The EHP Minister at the time, Stephen Miles, claimed the design of the dam’s construction was unknown and therefore considered the wall “unsafe.”

Refuting the Minister’s assertion, the hydrologist, Geoff Benjamin, of Mareeba, said the wall remained intact and sound after 300 mm fell in one night, before the wall construction was finally completed.

“The dam was designed with an effective spillway and fish-way, however construction work was forced to cease due to early wet-season rains,” Mr Benjamin said.

“Although I did not visit the site when work ceased, I believe that the embankment height was about 1 to 1.5 m below the intended final design elevation.

“At this elevation a natural depression on the eastern side provides a broad, natural spillway so that the embankment would not be compromised in the event of intense storm run-off; which is in fact, exactly what occurred when Cyclone Etta, I think, passed straight over the property in January 2014, reportedly dropping about 300 mm of rain over-night!

“The statement about ‘unacceptable safety risk’ would therefore seem totally baseless.  Unfortunately such uninformed, alarmist comments seem to be what we’ve come to expect from this particular Minister.”

Defending the decision to demolish the valuable water asset, home to innumerable birdlife and other aquatic wildlife, the EHP claimed the design was unknown, which has been ridiculed by Mr Benjamin.

“Likewise the assertion that ‘the status of its design and capacity is unknown’ is inaccurate, since I provided details of the design to one of the Minister’s departmental officers not long after EHP acquired the Springvale property,” Mr Benjamin said.

The EHP claimed it acquired Springvale to prevent sediment runoff into the Great Barrier Reef catchment, however the Chief Scientist for Queensland, Dr Geoff Garrett, told a meeting of landowners at Lakeland prior to the property purchase there was no measurable sediment runoff from the Upper Normanby catchment.

Minister Miles ignored this advice and continued with the purchase, wasting $7 million of taxpayers funds and removed 4000 head of cattle from the local economy.

The property is being divided into yet more unnecessary national park with the balance being given to an indigenous group.

Tenders to decommission the dam were called on January 24 and will close on March 5, 2018.

Advertisements

Responsible citizen shoots 5.2m crocodile near Rockhampton

from the Guardian

A massive saltwater crocodile – said to be one of the biggest ever seen in Queensland – has been found shot dead in the Fitzroy River near Rockhampton.

Police and state environmental officers are investigating after the 5.2-metre male reptile was found with a bullet in its head in the Fitzroy river in Rockhampton on Thursday.

The crocodile was taken to the nearby Koorana crocodile farm, where it will be buried once a necropsy is carried out. Farm owner John Leaver said a five-metre crocodile had not been caught in Queensland for 20 to 30 years.

A responsible shooter shot this large salt water croc performing a public duty. The ALP/LNP junta has combined forces to prevent a KAP bill being presented in State Parliament which will protect the public, livestock and animals from croc attack.

“There may have been some others shot in the wild that we don’t know about, but from my recollection, over the past three decades this would be the largest,” he said on Friday.

Leaver, who ran a crocodile removal service across the state for 20 years, said the largest one he ever caught was 4.95m in the late 1980s. “We caught that one up near Airlie beach [in Queensland],” he said.

Leaver said it was not unusual for a crocodile of that size to be found so far south. The farmer said Rockhampton locals used to shoot crocodiles “equal to that size” in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, before it was illegal.

It is believed the 5.2m reptile had been dead for a few days before a member of the public spotted it floating and notified environmental officers.

Leaver said the gunshot had caused a large hole in the top of the saltwater crocodile’s skull, suggesting the bullet came from a “fairly large-calibre rifle”.

“I would say that someone felt very threatened,” he said, when asked why he thought it had been shot.

Innisfail man charged with shooting a croc

A north Queensland man has been charged with killing and decapitating a crocodile to keep its skull as a trophy.

The crocodile skull was allegedly found during a raid of a home at Eubenangee, north of Innisfail in the state’s far north, on 1 June.

The environment and heritage protection department is still working to confirm if the crocodile skull came from the carcass of a four-metre crocodile that was found dead on a creek bed on a private property at Innisfail in April.

The man has been charged with a number of offences, including taking a protected animal, as well as weapons and drugs offences.

The maximum penalty for killing a crocodile without authorisation is $27,425.

The 60-year-old is due to face Innisfail magistrates court on 10 July.

Comment

Cairns News has been told by indigenous people of several large crocs living near the tip of Cape York that are more than 5.2 metres in length. The Mareeba crocodile farm has at least one croc measuring 5 metres in captivity. Aboriginal communities on both the east coast and west coast of Cape York report large crocodiles menacing their communities.

Recently a dog was grabbed on mudflats near Daintree. The owner was next to the dog when the 4.5m croc, camouflaged in mud, grabbed the unlucky canine and the lucky owner nearly had a heart attack.

We have had numerous reports of crocs that have been shot in the north over the past 12 months. The hopeless and stupefied LNP and ALP have thrown the people of the north to the crocs, by holding up the Katter’s Safer Waterways bill.  We say we don’t blame fed-up people shooting crocs. We also say the corporation has no power to prosecute a citizen.

It is a puerile argument to expect the understaffed, under-resourced and uncaring EPA to respond to a crocodile sighting or facilitate their removal, by any means.

Crocodile in cane field attacks worker near Mareeba

A cane harvesting contractor had to prise open the jaws of a salt water crocodile with a large spanner to remove the hand of a worker who attempted to move the 1.4 metre reptile from a cane paddock.

The attack occurred Sunday at a Peters Road farm, three kilometres from the Mareeba CBD when company work place safety officer Daryl Bell was called by a harvesting machine operator to capture the croc and tape its jaws before removing it.

The injured animal “latched onto my hand puncturing my thumb and fingers and it would not let go,” Mr Bell said.

A saltwater crocodile had its jaws prised open with a spanner after it latched onto cane worker Daryl Bell’s hand(left) in a sugar cane paddock near Mareeba. Harvesting contractor Bruce Craven is standing next to the irrigation channel in which several crocs had been seen

“The operator grabbed the tail and I grabbed the jaws but its skin started to peel off, I lost my grip and it grabbed my hand.

“Its teeth went right through my thumb nail and a finger.

“I felt sorry for the croc because it had been burnt and I had no intention of hurting it.”

Mr Bell was taken to Mareeba Hospital to get treatment and was released after his hand had been bandaged and treated to prevent infection.

Owner of Harvest Mareeba, Bruce Craven said he prised open the animal’s jaws to remove Mr Bell’s hand.

Threats of prosecution made by Environment and Heritage Protection officers to local farmers should they interfere with crocodiles, led Mr Craven to contact the department in Cairns for advice about the injured reptile.

He said it took more than two hours to get an officer on the phone.

“They told us to take it to a vet who then euthanized it,” he said.

Cane worker Daryl Bell had to get hospital treatment after a 1.4 metre crocodile bit and punctured his thumb and finger

Mr Craven said the croc had been burnt the previous day in a cane fire and was not discovered until the machine operator saw it while he was harvesting standing cane.

“Having crocodiles in a cane paddock places my men in a dangerous situation and this croc should not have been in the cane.

“They are not supposed to be on the Tablelands,” Mr Craven said.

“Children ride bikes along this road next to the irrigation channel where the crocs live.

“The EHP has been contacted in the past about removing crocs from this area but they refuse to do anything about the danger.”

This croc had to have its jaws prised open to remove a cane worker’s hand

Julatten cane harvesting contractor Gordon Rasmussen, the Katters Australian Party candidate for Cook, was at the scene and was critical of the State Government for “dragging its feet”, trying to prevent the KAP’s ‘Safe Waterways’ legislation from being introduced into Parliament before the upcoming election.

“Shane Knuth (Member for Dalrymple) has the bill ready to go so we can do something about controlling the explosion of crocs in the Mareeba area and throughout the north,” Mr Rasmussen said.

“There should be no salt water crocodiles on the Tablelands and here we have a serious incident that has been reported to the Workplace Health and Safety Department by medical authorities because this was a work place accident.

“The State Government seems quite happy for farmers to be attacked by crocs and I can understand why farmers are reluctant to remove dangerous crocs because the Environment Department will chase them through the courts for a $25,000 fine.

“Mr Knuth said he will try to have the bill debated and passed in August.

“We have to do something now.”

 

Qld Govt at war with itself over $7m cattle property purchase

More jaundiced reporting from the ABC about Springvale Station west of Cooktown that the Queensland Environment Department bought for $7 million to prevent sediment runoff into the ocean.

The only problem is that bogus data was used to base the purchase, when in fact the Government’s own previously published scientific data clearly showed Springvale Station was responsible for less than one per cent runoff into Princess Charlotte Bay.

See story Cairns News: ‘Lakefield National Park contributes more reef runoff than all combined cattle properties in the catchment’

from ABC

In what could be a storyline from the satirical TV series Yes Minister, the Queensland Government has gone to war with itself.

Key points:

  • The Mines Department is considering an application to mine a river on state-owned land for gold and tin
  • The Environment Department bought the land in a bid to halt sediment reaching the reef
  • The two departments are in a legal fight in the Land Court

The ABC has learned one Queensland Government department has lodged a legal objection to another department over a plan to mine a river on state-owned land.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is taking on the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in a stoush in the Land Court over Springvale Station on Cape York.

The Queensland Government bought the massive cattle station for $7 million last year.

The idea was to stop, or at least reduce, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sediment from the property washing from the West Normanby River into the Great Barrier Reef.

But it seems — in the best traditions of Yes Minister — the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing.

At the same time the Environment Department was buying the property to prevent damaging sediment flowing down the river, the Natural Resources Department was considering an application to mine the river at Springvale Station for gold and tin ore.

Now the case is before the Queensland Land Court.

In its objection, the Environment Department argues “the public right and interest will be prejudiced by the proposed mining activity as it will directly and negatively impact the biodiversity values for which the property was acquired”.

It says research suggests that “Springvale Station is the source of approximately 460,000 tonnes of sediment runoff every year, which is around 40 per cent of all gully erosion-derived sediment in the Normanby River catchment”.

The West Normanby River joins the eastern branch of the river before draining into Princess Charlotte Bay and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

“The proposed mining activity will likely further destabilise the alluvial and colluvial soils of the West Normanby River and increase soil erosion and sediment loss,” the Environment Department said in its objection.

“… The long-term economic benefits of enhancing environmental outcomes through this acquisition will far exceed the economic and employment benefits of this small mining operation.”

The department also warns sedimentation blocks light for coral, smothers marine organisms and reduces coral and seagrass growth.

It states the northern section of the reef has been significantly affected by coral bleaching, with “high levels of coral mortality”.

“For those corals to have the best chance of recovery, the water quality needs to be as good as possible,” the Environment Department wrote.

Endangered plants, animals on land: Environment Department

The State Government has already begun removing cattle from Springvale Station in a bid to reduce sediment run-off.

The Environment Department said it would invest a substantial amount of public money for conservation work on the property to further reduce run-off, with the price tag set at $30,000 a hectare.

The department also said the property was home to endangered or vulnerable flora and fauna species, including the northern quoll, red goshawk, brown antelope orchid and spectacled flying fox.

In a statement to the ABC, the Environment Department said it was the Government’s “intention that Springvale Station be declared a nature refuge”.

But it said such a declaration would “not necessarily preclude the commencement of activities proposed under the mining lease application”.

A spokesman for the Land Court said the objection to the proposed mine would be heard in August.

Lakefield National Park contributes more reef runoff than all combined cattle properties in the catchment

The $7 million purchase of Springvale Station at Lakeland last year by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to prevent sediment runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef derives from incorrect data and is a waste of a viable, developed grazing property.

The adjoining property owner and former Mayor of Cook Shire, Graham Elmes said Lakefield National Park, not Springvale, according to government data was responsible for 86 per cent of sediment runoff into Princes Charlotte Bay.

A spokesman for EHS Minister Stephen Miles said Springvale “reportedly was responsible for up to 40 per cent of gully-derived sediment in the Normanby catchment, which is a significant upper catchment draining onto the northern Great Barrier Reef.

“The Queensland Government aims to manage and conserve Springvale’s significant biophysical values, and contribute to improved water quality in the Normanby River catchment by reducing sediment runoff from the property.”

Former Cook Shire Mayor Graham Elmes says Springvale Station was bought under false pretences by the Qld Environment Dept. Lakefield National Park contributes 86 per cent of runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef, according to government data

In late March Mr Elmes met with EHP staff at Lakeland where he pointed out, according to a report from the Cape York Local Marine Park Authority, that 86 per cent of tested sediment levels found on the bed of Princes Charlotte Bay originated from the Bizant River system that runs through the destocked, 5370 square kilometre Lakefield National Park and not from the Normanby River catchment.

He said gravel pits and 40 kilometres of gravel road running through the Kalpowar section of the national park were major sources of soil sediment runoff.

“After every wet season the national parks have to re-sheet their gravel roads with thousands of tonnes of gravel extracted from their own open gravel pits on the park,” Mr Elmes said.

“Where do they think the runoff from the pits and all this gravel from the roads ends up after floods?

“The report says the Marrett River that runs through Kalpowar puts 19 per cent and the North Kennedy 21 per cent into the Bizant River that contributes another 46 per cent of sediment that empties into Princes Charlotte Bay.”

The report states runoff from Springvale Station and the 11 other cattle properties in the(Normanby) catchment above the coastal plains represents only nine per cent of the total sediment found on the bed of Princes Charlotte Bay.

“This nine percent of runoff is spread across 11 former or existing cattle properties including Springvale in the Normanby catchment,” Mr Elmes explained.

“If it is averaged across all 11 places then Springvale’s runoff contribution is less than one per cent.”

Section 1.3.6 of the report says: ‘…riverine delivered sediments from the upper catchment (ie sourced from above the coastal plain) only represent about nine per cent of the sediment present on the bed of Princes Charlotte Bay.’

It goes on to say: ‘It is clear that a great deal more research is required to unravel the interaction with sediment delivered to the near shore zone in Princes Charlotte Bay by tidal currents, and sediment delivered to the reef in flood plumes…’

The spokesman said the former cattle station would be destocked of cattle by October 31, 2017, when it would be declared a Nature Refuge under the Nature Conservation Act.

“The longer-term intent is to dedicate the property as a higher class of protected area as a conservation park. This process will be subject to a negotiated native title outcome through the Cape York Tenure Resolution Program,” he said.

“Implementation of a program of works to manage and reduce erosion on the property will commence in 2017.

“Research does indicate that sediment flowing into Princess Charlotte Bay comes from a range of sources including Lakefield National Park, which is a natural source.

“We know feral animals can cause soil erosion, which is why the Queensland Government has feral animal control programs in place in national parks including Lakefield.

“These activities aim to reduce the impacts of hard hoofed pests, particularly cattle and pigs that adversely impact on watercourses, and subsequently sediment erosion.”

Mr Elmes said: “The government’s own data shows they have wasted a lot of money buying this property and now they want to turn it into a conservation park, which most locals are dead against.

“It has over 4000 acres of cultivation paddocks and large dams suitable for irrigation and I don’t know where the so-called biophysical values are on the property.

“We agreed they could turn it into a nature reserve which allows cattle grazing but we do not want another huge area of wasteland which will be an enormous problem to manage.

“We will see the shire lose more of its small rate base and lose 4000 cattle from the local economy.

“When I showed staff at the meeting these are sediment figures from their own data, there was stunned silence.”

The 2013 study by the Cape York Local Marine Park Authority titled ‘An Empirically-based Sediment Budget for the Normanby Basin’ was funded by the Federal Government as a part of Caring for Our Country Reef Rescue Initiative.

Contributed

Government feeding tourist to their crocs

The Queensland Government has allowed crocodile numbers to reach endemic proportions killing people and virtually closing tourist traffic to some northern areas of the state. The looney Green agenda driven by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Environment Minister Stephen Miles forced them so far out of their depth a croc will get ’em. Click on the video below:

%d bloggers like this: