State of the Environment Report title
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2004 Report



Young

icon for land and water Issue: Catchment quality

This issue is discussed for these areas:  

How has catchment quality changed?

| Download a satellite (Landsat) image of the shire | (warning: 5.4 MB pdf)

See these indicator results for more detail: | Discharges to waters | Ecological communities | Fire | Groundwater | Land degradation | Landuse | Pest plants | Riparian condition |Surface water quality | Water use |

Photograph of a lupin crop at Young; Credit: Murray Fagg

Lupin crop in Young Shire

Insufficient data were available to adequately assess changes to, or impacts on, many aspects of catchment quality within Young Shire during the reporting period. As a result, changes in erosion, salinity, ground and surface water quality and condition of terrestrial and riparian ecosystems and impacts of these changes could not be reported .

Drought was potentially the most significant event impacting on catchment quality within the shire during the reporting period. The entire shire was drought-affected during late 2002 to late 2003 and early to mid 2004. Parts of the Bland and Burrangong Creek subcatchments suffered drought in addition to these periods. The drought continued beyond the end of the reporting period.

Potential effects of drought included:

Again, impacts were not known at the end of the reporting period.

Where are the 'hot spots'?

See these indicator results for more detail: | Discharges to waters | Land degradation | Pest animals |Pest plants |

During the drought periods, the Bland Creek subcatchment had a more reduced vegetation vigour from October to November 2003 than other subcatchments within the shire and the Burrangong and Crowther Creek subcatchments had a more reduced vegetation vigour from December 2003 to January 2004.

An amount of treated effluent from the Young township is discharged into the Burrangong River. No information regarding the impacts of this on catchment quality was available, however it should be minimal due to the effluent meeting licence targets.

Despite the drought, severe to extreme dryland salinity outbreaks were reported in the Burrangong and Crowther Creek subcatchments.

Extreme gully erosion predominantly recorded along the catchment boundary between Crowther and Burrangong Creek subcatchments and in the eastern section of the Crowther Creek subcatchment from Stringybark Flat to Koorawatha. Severe to extreme sheet erosion predominantly occurs within the Burrangong Creek subcatchment with some areas in the upper Crowther Creek subcatchment.

The only areas of timber production forests within the shire occur in the Douglas Range and at Mount Crowther in the Crowther Creek subcatchment.

Three out of four priority pest animals within the shire were recorded within the Crowther Creek subcatchment i.e. Rabbits, Wild Deer and Goats. Rabbits decreased while the latter two remained stable during the reporting period. The main infestation of Silverleaf Nightshade occurs in the Young area within the Burrangong River subcatchment. The area of infestation of this species remained stable during the reporting period.

Strongly acidic soils occur throughout the majority of the Crowther, Balabla and Jones Creek subcatchments. A small area of agricultural lands in the upper Crowther Creek subcatchment and a large area in the upper Bland Creek subcatchment were not in this class but had a high to critical risk of soil acidification. Impacts of acid soils may include decreased crop yields, poor performance of perennial pastures, and increased erosion, siltation and salinity. These impacts may, however, be ameliorated through good land management practices.

Other factors relating to catchment quality

See these indicator results for more detail: | Discharges to waters | Ecological communities | Fire | Land degradation | Landuse | Pest animals | Pest plants | Riparian condition | Water use |

The only conservation reserves within the shire are within the Crowther Creek catchment on the Dananbilla–Illunie Range and at Koorawatha. The latter reserve was dedicated during the reporting period and substantial additions were also made to the reserve at Dananbilla.

A number of vegetation communities within the shire were estimated to be endangered or vulnerable.

A number of small wildfires occurred within the shire during the reporting period. It is unknown where these were located or what impacts they had on catchment quality.

All priority weed species either remained stable or experienced reductions in area during the reporting period.

What has been done to address catchment quality?

See these indicator results for more detail: | Discharges to waters | Ecological communities | Landuse | Pest animals | Pest plants | Riparian condition | Water use |

At least five projects were undertaken by community groups and council to improve catchment quality within the Burrangong Creek subcatchment. Activities undertaken included native vegetation protection, revegetation, riparian fencing and salinity works. At least another three projects were undertaken in Bland Creek subcatchment to protect and enhance native vegetation. In addition, at least another three projects in the Crowther Creek subcatchment were undertaken to address salinity, erosion and vegetation decline .

Activities undertaken by council during the reporting period to address catchment quality include:

Activities undertaken by the Young Rural Lands Protection Board reduced rabbit populations within the shire.

Other actions to conserve biodiversity would have contributed to catchment quality within the shire (see Conserving biodiversity issue).

The future—what does this mean for Council?

Continued lack of data about many aspects of catchment quality within the shire will mean only partial assessment of it is possible, and with it, a corresponding risk of activities within the shire having inadvertent adverse impacts.

Lack of ongoing monitoring of erosion, sedimentation, salinity and ground and surface water quality within the shire may hamper conservation efforts, as impacts from urban and rural development and other pressures (e.g. fire, drought, landuse) cannot be determined and remediation measures cannot be planned. Monitoring is also essential to determine whether environmental plans and strategies and on-ground management projects are achieving the desired catchment management outcomes.

Council needs to maintain appropriate effort and resources in the following areas of its environmental management.