Springing back to life

Friday 20 June, 2003

Clear water seeping from underground aquifers fills and maintains a series of surface pools at 12 sites on Carnarvon Station Reserve (Qld).

Normally these springs are small oases surrounded by native grasses and water plants, with populations of frogs, native fish, aquatic insects and terrestrial animals and birds in abundance. Not only do they supply homes and drinking water for the wildlife, but they have also quenched the thirst of the human residents of the area for hundreds, and probably thousands, of years.

Protecting these springs is now a critical part of the conservation management of the Reserve.

The damage caused to these springs by the activities of feral pigs in particular is devastating. Where pigs have used them, the life-giving waters have been turned into churned, muddy and lifeless bogs.

Over the past two years, volunteer rangers have begun the job of fencing these unique and important habitats (see Bush Heritage News Winter 2002, Spring 2002 and Summer 2002) and the positive outcomes of their efforts so far are worth documenting.

Life and health are returning to the three springs that have been protected to date. Crystal clear pools are once again supporting a flourishing and expanding fringe of native grasses and water plants. Aquatic insects have returned and frogs should follow. The birds and small native animals are again drinking clear water. The fences have been carefully placed to ensure that water is still available outside the enclosed area for the larger native animals.

As pig numbers continue to decline with ongoing control measures, the quality of this water will gradually improve also. The program to protect the nine remaining springs is continuing.

As part of the protection of the Carnarvon Station Reserve springs and to ensure that there's adequate and dependable water for the human population on the Reserve, Bush Heritage has found an alternative water supply. With a generous grant from the Thyne Reid Charitable Trusts, improvements will be made to a bore, pipes and storage to provide reliable, high-quality water to the staff and volunteers. This will mean that Lady and Blue Water springs will be freed forever of their piping and tanks and returned to the wildlife and flora. We're very grateful for this generous support.

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