Depending on who you listen to, the Victorian Government’s latest grazing trial in the Alpine National Park is a sinister ruse or a crucial alpine management tool.CATHY WALKER December 3, 2013 4:04am
Depending on who you listen to, the Victorian Government’s latest grazing trial in the Alpine National Park is a sinister ruse or a crucial alpine management tool.
The Victorian National Parks Association called the new trial ‘‘more of the same — a favour for cattlemen mates dressed up as fire and land management’’.
But mountain cattlemen, backed by the VFF, called on the Federal Government to fast-track the reintroduction of alpine grazing to Victoria.
‘‘Cattle grazing is not appropriate in national parks and this seems to be a back door way of getting cheap grazing for their cattlemen mates again. It’s a park not a paddock,’’ Victorian National Parks Association spokesman Phil Ingamells said.
The proposed grazing trial has been moved to a lower altitude river flat in the Wonnangatta Valley, which has not been grazed by cattle since it was bought and included in the Alpine National Park in 1988.
‘‘This new trial appears to be an admission by the Napthine Government that cattle don’t belong on the high plains, where the earlier and widely criticised trial was started,’’ Mr Ingamells said.
Both sides would agree the issue will be a test for new Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who has to adjudicate on the Victorian Government’s plan to return cattle to the high country.
VFF Omeo Branch president and mountain cattleman Simon Turner said: ‘‘We are hoping that commonsense prevails and that the ecological future of our alpine regions can be protected.
‘‘The former Labor Government’s refusal to revive alpine grazing has damaged the alps,’’ Mr Turner said.
‘‘Not only has it left the area bushfire prone, it has risked wiping out a 200-year-old tradition.’’
But the parks association said contrary to what cattlemen claim, the Wonnangatta river flat had been actively managed by Parks Victoria to reduce weed infestation, particularly cape broom, and by using fire to restore native grasslands that protect vulnerable native plants.
‘‘The Napthine Government has its priorities wrong,’’ Mr Ingamells said.
‘‘His government has already spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff time, lawyers and media blitzes trying to justify its attempts to return cattle to the national park, when there is abundant evidence that cattle grazing in the alps is not effective in reducing bushfires, and does considerable harm to the high country.’’
Last week, Greater Shepparton City Council stopped short of calling specifically for cattle grazing to be investigated in the municipality’s state and national parks.
Councillors had debated a motion Cr Dennis Patterson introduced for the council to lobby the Victorian and federal governments to investigate grazing to mitigate the risk of bushfire.
The motion applied to Lower Goulburn National Park and Shepparton Regional Park.
However, Cr Michael Polan successfully amended the motion to remove the reference to cattle grazing.
Water has been returned to Kinnairds and Black wetlands to help with their revitalisation after bushfire damaged them in February.
More than 2200 people have signed up to show their support for a campaign to have the green route chosen for the new Yarrawonga Mulwala bridge.
Members of Murchison Book Club are hosting a literary lunch with Vivien Achia, author of Marrying Italian — When Love is Not Enough.
Matches were split up over Good Friday and Easter Saturday throughout the region.
Painter Ben Winspear and Scott Wileman will create new works as the public look on during the at Rochester Art Exhibition.
Kyabram Bombers have the chance to beat Rochester under light for the first time this Friday evening.
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Tocumwal's Don Elgin is aiming to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland
Eighty residents at a forum determined the Heathcote Community Plan was on track but need some fine tuning.
Cobram skate park hosts skateboarding and music for youth week.
Senior state minister Adrian Piccoli reaquainted himself with Deniliquin yesterday, leaving Deniliquin Counil hopeful it has an ally in him.
With his blue eyes and snow-coloured coat, Nanneella horse Sinatra has looks worthy of a fairytale.
Fourteen-year-old Benalla girl Jaimee Linke will launch her debut novel next month.
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