Member for Nicholls Damian Drum, left, Mitchell Shire Mayor Bill Chisholm, third from left, and Nationals candidate for Nicholls Sam Birrell, fourth from left, joined Nulla Vale Pyalong West Landcare Group members to celebrate the culmination of a three-year project at Mollison Creek.

By Colin MacGillivray

Nulla Vale Pyalong West Landcare Group members last week celebrated the culmination of a three-year project to restore an island in Pyalong’s Mollison Creek to its former glory.

The group received $20,000 from the Federal Government’s Communities Environment Program in 2019 to remove blackberry and other noxious weeds from the island and replace them with native plants.

Group president David Dunstan said Landcare used the grant to hire local contractors to spray blackberry bushes and undertake initial weed clearing before the group’s approximate 60 members undertook countless hours of volunteer work to complete the job.

Landcare group executive member Michael Wright said the works would mean the Pyalong community could make use of the island, accessed via Sandy Creek Road, for the first time in two decades.

“We put in the [grant] application to reclaim what had been a community asset that over the past 20 years had been completely taken over by blackberry bushes. There was quite a bit of interest in the community to try and recover it,” he said.

“We negotiated with DELWP [the Department of Land, Environment, Water and Planning], the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and [Mitchell Shire Council] to get permission to do what we’ve done.

“We’ve spent the past three years clearing the blackberry and the community is now back to using an area that was hidden from them for so long.”

Mr Wright said the project had been the Landcare group’s main focus during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping it to flourish.

“A lot of voluntary groups suffered during COVID because people weren’t able to do the things they joined for and membership fell away,” he said.

“We found that having this project and getting small groups together during COVID out in the open meant there were things that people could do in a community sense. That kept our members together and it’s a great thing to have done.”

Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said the government’s grants program was all about enabling groups to achieve environmental projects they were passionate about.

Nationals candidate Sam Birrell, who is striving to replace the retiring Mr Drum at next month’s federal election, said he would continue to advocate for funding for environmental groups in the electorate.

“My experience in advocacy is if a decree comes from Canberra that someone has got to do something and a bit of money follows it, it’s nowhere near as good as if we have a place-based approach to any community project,” he said.

“People who live in places know what they need, they just need the government to support them, and this is a perfect example of that.”

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