Media Releases | 4th Feb, 2009

Locals committed to a healthy Mitchell River

Wednesday 4 February, 2009

A local project run by Environment Victoria has revealed a passionate commitment within the East Gippsland community to maintain a healthy Mitchell River and Gippsland Lakes.

The project, Your River: the Mitchell River, will be launched next week in Bairnsdale and profiles a range of locals including farmers, ecologists and volunteers who live, work and play in the Mitchell River catchment.

Leonie Duncan, Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Campaigner, said the study revealed how a diverse range of East Gippsland residents felt the need to speak up for the river system they loved and depended on.

“East Gippsland’s magnificent Mitchell River is one of the last remaining major Victorian river systems free from dams. The Mitchell also has a special listing under the Heritage Rivers Act due to its rich ecological and cultural heritage and unique social and recreational value,” she said.

“Flows from the Mitchell River are vital for maintaining the ecological health and tourism appeal of the Gippsland Lakes, which are internationally significant as a haven for the world’s declining waterbird population.

“Bank erosion and pest plants and animals were among the key threats to the Mitchell identified by participants of the Your River project, along with concern over renewed calls by some quarters to place a dam on the river.”

But Environment Victoria found there was reason to hope for the future of this special river.

“It’s pretty clear that there is strong community concern for protecting the Mitchell River and Gippsland Lakes, and a commitment to ensuring that this much-loved river system can be enjoyed by many generations to come,” Ms Duncan said.

The Mitchell River stories will include:

  • Flaggy Creek bed and breakfast owner Robyn Grant, who has spent much of the past 23 years campaigning for a healthy Mitchell River.
  • Beef farmer Geoff Johnston who has spent the past few years removing willows and weeds along the river bank and cleaning up his river flats property in Walpa after the 2007 floods.
  • Urban Landcare volunteer Ian Clues who has been instrumental in rekindling the Bairnsdale community’s passion for the Mitchell River.
  • Respected ecologist Roger Bilney and his son, PhD student Rohan who are both keen to see cattle removed from the river’s edge and an end to clear-felling in the catchment area.
  • Avid bushwalker and sailor Jan McChesney who considers the Mitchell River and the Gippsland Lakes to be her “soul places”.
  • Mitchell River National Park Ranger-in-Charge Yasmin Aly who is interested in exploring the river’s indigenous heritage and ensuring the Mitchell is here to enjoy for many generations to come.