As the dispute continues between Facebook and the Australian government over the media licensing laws, Mountain Journal has been caught up in the cross fire. All the content has been removed from our facebook page. This has happened to many other community, environmental, snow and outdoors related groups.
Until we get our page reinstated, I thought I would add mountain related news stories here on a daily basis. Newest content will be at the top.
Check here for details on mountain related events.
FEB 26, 2021.
Now that Facebook has lifted the ban on pages sharing news, we will go back to using our Facebook page for daily updates.
Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook: March – May 2021
After a horror season over the summer of 2019/20, this year has seen very little fire activity in the mountains. It looks like this will continue as we head into autumn. According to the Australian Seasonal Bushfire Outlook,
‘The influence of La Niña on Australia’s climate has had a pronounced effect on fire potential. More rain than usual in many locations over summer has helped to reduce the fire risk.
In the coming months, below normal fire potential can be expected in parts of Victoria … due to wet conditions and damp vegetation and soils’.
Murrindindi Councillors call for protection of local forests.
More good news! Last night, Murrindindi Councillors unanimously passed a motion to save 8 coupes from logging by VicForests. Located on Dry Creek Hill above Snobs Creek waterfall, these are the heart of future tourist activities in the region.
Friends of the Mitta Mitta
Our New Website is Up and Running. Check it out!
For paddlers: lots of links to existing forums, relevant FaceBook pages, gear swaps, discussion groups, training resources, river gear sources, and river and weather info, not to mention tons of great interpretive articles and links to inform. Also in house forums for paddlers looking for carpools or paddle partners etc., who don’t want to use FB.
For school groups: Great articles about the natural and human history of the Mitta, Snowy, Mitchell and other Alpine and Victorian rivers. Flora, fauna, Aboriginal info, settler info, geology and more.
Bunnings selling tree ferns taken from native forest logging
Blue Derby Wild in Lutruwita/ Tasmania report:
Bunnings are continuing to hide behind Tasmanian government regulations that allow logging in Gondwanic remnant forests to legitimate their trade in Tasmanian tree ferns taken from native forest logging.
State regulations that exempt native forest logging from national laws that protect rare, threatened and endangered species like our Tassie devils, spotted tail quoll and endemic Simson stag beetle that we’ve recorded.
Buying into the Tasmanian tree fern trade is buying into a logging regime that continues to fail the standards to achieve Forests Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.
Native forest logging in Tasmania is heavily tax payer subsidised while destroying the biodiversity and natural beauty Tasmania is trying to build new industries around, such as the Blue Derby Mountain Bike trails.
Breaking news: Bunnings have removed all online sales options for Tasmanian tree ferns from their websites!
A good first step.
Don’t leave campfires unattended
More than 300 unattended and abandoned campfires have been detected in state forests, parks and reserves in Victoria this summer. This number is too high. Those caught breaching campfire safety rules will face penalties.
FEB 25, 2021
Polish volunteer firefighters raise funds for restoration after Kosci fires
Item from the Polish government: ‘A year after the devastating bushfires in 2019-20, wildlife recovery efforts in the Snowy Mountains are still ongoing, lots of them financed using funds received from Poland. Almost half a million złotych, collected by volunteer firefighters from Poręba Spytkowska, as well as funds donated by the Polish community in Australia (over $150,000 AUD in total), are being spent to help save species most threatened with extinction, including on the restoration of their habitat destroyed by fire. The restoration of flora and fauna unique to Mount Kosciuszko is a process that will, however, take many years’.
Where The Water Starts
We are living on the driest inhabited continent on earth and our alpine and sub-alpine terrain is extremely small – amounting to 0.01 percent of our continent – yet it contributes almost 30% of the Murray-Darling Basin’s water.
Where The Water Starts aims to draw attention to this precious place. The iconic Snowy River is struggling, and this film will feature the work of an Indigenous man, Richard Swain, and his partner as they seek to defend the Snowy Mountains against feral horses and catastrophic fires.
The producers say: Be proactive, Like our Page and consider making a donation.
Is climate change making avalanches worse?
There are clues globally that the avalanche threat is escalating in some regions as the planet warms, triggered by greater temperature swings and more intense rain and snow storms.
It’s almost impossible to say any one particular avalanche was caused by global warming, but it’s also not accurate to say that global warming is not a factor, since all of today’s weather is happening in a climate that’s already been fundamentally changed by global warming.
FEB 24, 2021
Forest refuges under threat from logging
A new report showing analysis of maps and data from the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires has revealed the significant areas of unburnt forests critical for bushfire affected wildlife are set to be logged by the Victorian Government.
The report titled After the Fires: protecting our forest refuges reveals damaging plans by state-owned logging company VicForests to continue to log over 20,000ha of forest across ten key refuge areas identified in the report. These areas, and others not focussed on in the report are critical for wildlife to recover and repopulate the vast areas where millions of animals were killed by the fires. The report also finds that out of the 112,000 ha of state forest in East Gippsland outside the fire extent, 90,000 ha remains unprotected.
High cost of fencing out ferals in Australia’s Alps
For decades conservationists campaigned to have cattle grazing removed from the high country due to the serious impacts hard-hoofed grazing animals were having on biodiversity, particularly the sensitive alpine peatlands. Cattle grazing was paused while the area recovered from the 2003 bushfires and the last licences for alpine grazing were finally withdrawn by the Victorian Government in 2006.
Tragically, the area is now under threat from other hard-hoofed introduced animals, more recently, sambar deer, leading to the need for new measures to protect important sites from the impacts of both sambar deer and feral horses.
There is a report available from the Invasive Species Council here.
23 FEB 2021
Mt Wellington cable car developer ‘hoping to start construction this year’
The Mount Wellington Cableway Company is pressing ahead with a tourism development on Hobart’s mountain that it says is “needed badly” by the state, despite another set-back over its efforts to address Aboriginal heritage concerns.
The Mount Wellington Cableway Company took Hobart’s council to the Planning Appeals Tribunal over a request for more Aboriginal heritage information
The Tribunal ruled in favour of the council, that there should be a full Aboriginal heritage assessment.
Vica Bayley from Residents Opposed to the Cable Car said the RPMAT decision was bittersweet. “It’s a sad day when a court has to force a private developer to do a proper Aboriginal heritage survey,” he said. Nala Mansell from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre agreed. “I think it shows a complete lack of interest and understanding of Aboriginal heritage and our connection to our heritage.” ABC story here. There has been a strong and determined community campaign against this proposal.
Snow infrastructure rebuilt at Mt Mawson
Snow Action reports that in Tassie the local volunteers at Mt Mawson are working hard on a very key bit of lift infrastructure. Between COVID and a lack of snow they couldn’t even open last winter.
This year they should be able to do that with a bit less snow required thanks to the rebuild of the Uni Tow snow fence. Keeping what snow they get is imperative to getting things open, especially along the rope tow lines.
“Mt Mawson Ski Field is in a World Heritage Listed National Park, so no slope grooming allowed – hence the need for snow fences to capture any snowfall” Dr Pete says. “Amazingly we can operate with about a metre of snow once its packed down.”
Local community owned power gets a boost
Regional communities would own a slice of renewable energy projects in their towns under a proposal from an independent federal politician.
Indi MP Helen Haines will on Monday introduce a bill to parliament which sets up the Australian Local Power Agency.
This could potentially benefit communities around mountain areas. North east Victoria is already in a newly announced Renewable Energy Zone (this is a state government initiative – see map). Let’s hope the other parties support it. Story here.
Protecting the alpine tree frog
Congratulations to wildlife health researcher Dr Laura Brannelly who has received a 2021 Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award.
The award will allow Dr Brannelly to better understand how disease affects the reproduction of the alpine tree frog, a declining native Australian species that was once present throughout much of the Snowy Mountains in Victoria and New South Wales. Story here.
Wild Magazine unfriended
Wild Magazine reports that their Facebook feed has been completely blocked. ‘For the time being, there’s still our website (wild.com.au), and newsletters like this, and, of course, our magazine. Really, an event like this just shows how overly concentrated our media markets and platforms are, and more than ever, how critical independent voices are’.
‘If you can, consider supporting Wild by subscribing either in print or digitally at wild.com.au/subscribe.
Nature in Culture: Flowing from Kunama Namadgi, The Mother of Snow
Jakelin Troy is a Ngarigu woman from the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, and Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research at The University of Sydney. She talks in this piece about water, and cultural connection to place in the Snowy Mountains.
‘Frozen or flowing, connection to the waters of the Snowy Mountains is inextricable from Ngarigu identity’.
“We are not who we are without snow and ice, springs, bogs, streams, waterfalls and cascading ice melts that cause the wild mountain rivers to run.” Story here.
Stopping ecosystem decline in Victoria
The parliamentary inquiry into ecosystem decline in Victoria will hold public hearings on 23 and 24 February, streaming live at vicparl.news/broadcast from 10 am on both days.
The Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee will hear from wildlife and endangered species experts as well as organisations dealing with invasive or threatening species. Obviously feral animals are an enormous problem in Victoria’s high country.
Bush Search and Rescue (BSAR) blocked by facebook
Another community victim of the conflict between facebook and the federal government: Facebook has blocked BSAR’s FB page. Their public updates will continue to be posted on twitter and on their website bsar.org
Baw Baw Trail Run
Saturday, February 27, 2021 – 6:00am and Sunday, February 28, 2021 – 5:00pm
‘Forming part of the “Alpine Runs” Series the Mt Baw Baw Trail Run offers something for everyone. Whether you’re new to trail running or are a seasoned marathon runner you’re sure to have a fantastic experience’.
Distances: 1 km—4 km—7 km—15 km—21 km—36 km—44 km
Mt Hotham resort is hiring for winter 2021.
‘Mt Hotham Skiing Company (MHSC) is the largest operator at Hotham Alpine Resort and seeks motivated, innovative and dynamic individuals each year to join our team working at the top of the Victorian Alps.’ Check here for full details.
Joint management of Buffalo and Alpine national parks challenged
There has been another development in the long running campaign by a group of traditional owners to challenge the Indigenous Land Use Agreement between the Victorian government and the Taungurung Land and Waters Council Aboriginal Corporation (TLaWCAC).
Radio National reports that the Federal Court has found that ‘significant errors’ occurred when the agreement was made, because concerns expressed by the other traditional owner group were not taken into account.
TLaWCAC have asked for a stay on deregulation so that the matters raised may be resolved.
Background on this issue can be found here.
An interesting idea – electric vehicle charging stations in all state parks
EVs aren’t as widely used here in Australia as they are in many countries, but they are certainly growing in popularity. More and more charging stations are being set up around the country to allow long distance travel. This idea from Colorado.
‘The Colorado State Parks system is pursuing sponsorship agreements to put electric vehicle charging stations in all of the 40-plus parks, including some busy day-use areas, with a boost from an environmental group that is also pursuing chargers for federal land sites.
‘Advocates say green lands charging stations are vital in Colorado walking the talk of attacking climate change, and assistant Colorado Parks & Wildlife director Heather Dugan said department staff are asking their board in March for approval to seek a memorandum of understanding with funders who would build out the infrastructure.
‘Run To The Hills’ is back on Saturday 6 March.
Mountains, music, friends, great food and cold beer. What more do you need?
Great line-up of music for all!
Starts 12 noon sharp, runs to 12 am.
At The General, Mt Hotham. Details here.
Buffalo Stampede run
A refreshed Buffalo Stampede Festival is back on the trail running calendar and will be happening on the 9th, 10th and 11th April 2021.
Planned events: 75km UltraSkyMarathon, 42km SkyMarathon, 20km SkyRun, 10km Twilight SkySprint, plus the 5km Bright Family Trail Run & 2km Junior Trail Run.
Peak bagging for Good
Join MND Victoria as they trek across the Australian Alps to raise vital funds to support Australians living with, and affected by motor neurone disease (MND).
‘Over 3 days, you’ll tackle Mt Stirling, Mt Feathertop and Mt Bogong, each view from the top as impressive as the last. Stand in awe of the majestic forests of Mt. Stirling, visit iconic Craig’s Hut and discover an incredible ridgeline connecting two of Victoria’s highest peaks- Mt Feathertop and Mt Hotham.
‘By the end of this challenge, you’ll have accomplished an incredible feat for an equally amazing cause—an unforgettable adventure that will renew and reignite your passion for exploration.
October 23 – 25.
High Country Dreaming: Failed Regen Coupes at 1400mtrs and ruined water downstream
This is the Mitchell River catchment that supplies drinking water to 22,000 people from Lindenow to Nowa Nowa, Bairnsdale, Paynesville and Lakes Entrance.
Something is very wrong with the rivers right now, and if the water board didn’t put a bucket load of chemicals in this river water, none of us would be drinking it.
Logging is going right now all over East Gippsland, in old unburnt forest refuges and in burnt areas, that aren’t dead and are still alive.
This is just one long unburnt recently logged forest coupe off the Dargo High Plains road in the Crooked River catchment, that feeds the Wonangatta River, that joins the Dargo River and becomes the Mitchell River.
This isn’t a fresh coupe, and its failed to ‘regenerate’ but there are fresh coupes just over the hills and around all these hills are massive tracts of forest burnt last summer and previous years. (Source: Friends of Bats and Habitat Gippsland).
Taungurung Cultural Day at Lake Mountain.
A delicious kangaroo sampler lunch will be included in the ticket price of $20 pp.
Yes, it’s still summer, but now is the perfect time to think about winter. If you’re planning to go backcountry this winter, check this guide from Backcountry Access. ‘BCA’s backcountry touring newcomer’s guide provides the top four things you should consider before hitting the backcountry for the first time’. Story here.
Mountain and wild landscape updates from Lutruwita/ Tasmania.
An alternative to Facebook for natural history discussion.
Snow media pages get the axe.
Many outdoors and snow media facebook pages are being caught up in the dispute. Snowaction is an important Australian ski magazine. Editor Owain Price says ‘Thanks to the dispute between the Australian Government and Facebook ALL Australian news sites – not just the handful of big publishers who gain from the Government’s new laws, but all the thousands of small publishers/bloggers/community news sites etc – suddenly can’t share their stuff on Facebook.’ Story here. The popular Miss Snow It All page has also had all its content removed.
When is old growth not old growth?
The Dargo High Plains in the VIC Alps are being heavily logged. It looked like some areas would receive protection because they were designated as ‘old growth’. Sadly, it turns out that the state forestry agency has decided its not actually old growth, so it will be logged. Story here.
Inside the hidden world of lightning victims.
Threat of lightning strike is a real summer time risk for all mountain adventurers. This is a story about strike survivors. Story here.
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