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Trees felled in road works used as snags in Abercrombie River

Trees felled in road works - recycled by Local Land Services in innovative fish habitat project.

Twenty five massive felled trees have just been delivered to a fish rehabilitation site on the Abercrombie River in an inspiring example of targeted recycling and community collaboration.

The box gum trees were tagged for removal by the Upper Lachlan Shire Council during road works on the Junction Point Road, but rather than these valuable pieces of timber being burned or turned into wood chip waste, they will instead become strategically placed habitat for native fish.

The recycled snags will be installed at the junction of the Tuena Creek and the Abercrombie River, west of Crookwell, during low flows at the end of summer.

Large woody debris or 'snags' are part of the natural in-channel habitat of several large-bodied native fish species including Murray cod, trout cod and golden perch.  However a survey of in stream habitat by NSW Fisheries in 2009 identified a low density of snags in the project site.

The site is a critical drought refuge and biodiversity hotspot in the headwaters of the Lachlan River system.

A world first release of captive bred Macquarie Perch took place above this site in 2011.  A range of landscape features make this an ideal site for native fish rehabilitation.

Endangered fish species including Trout Cod, Silver Perch, Pigmy Perch, Catfish and Murray cod are also native to the area.

Habitat and fish populations have been surveyed 18 times by DPI Fisheries since 2001, providing excellent base line data for the site.

"This project sets an example for the sustainable use of trees removed during road works," said Project Manager, Casey Proctor from Central Tablelands Local Land Services.

"It also demonstrates the benefits of cross sector collaboration, with the Roads & Maritime Services, NSW Fisheries, the Central Acclimatisation Society, fishing clubs, and local councils all getting involved."

Additionally, stage 2 of the project will trial new under water acoustic telemetry technology imported from Canada to monitor how fish actually use the snags under a range of flow conditions.

"Re-snagging is a primary method for in-stream rehabilitation but is relatively expensive and logistically challenging," explained Casey.

"This project will provide a thorough study of the habitat relationships of key species, especially where threatened species coexist with other native species." 

The removal of willow and blackberry, and other significant weeds will also be implemented, along with the replanting of native riparian vegetation (predominantly casuarinas and red gums) to improve bank stability, and sediment and erosion control. 

"We have created a partnership between a State agency, Local Government and fishing groups to deliver long term outcomes and ownership of the project site and on-ground works." 

"This is a great news story for fish, for people who enjoy fishing, and for anyone with an interest in cooperative, collaborative efforts to improve the natural environment," said Casey.  

For more information about the Abercrombie River re-snagging project contact Casey Proctor on phone: 02 6341 9318 or email: casey.proctor@lls.nsw.gov.au

Media contact: Kylie Krause on 0439 608370