Larry fired up over weeds

Larry Lewis returns west to manage Good Neighbour weeds program


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Announcer Neil Stewart reintroduced Larry Lewis to his old stomping ground of Barcaldine at their annual show.

Announcer Neil Stewart reintroduced Larry Lewis to his old stomping ground of Barcaldine at their annual show.

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A familiar face in western Queensland is back - but it's pests and weeds he's tackling this time, rather than bushfires.

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A familiar face in western Queensland is back - but it's pests and weeds he's tackling this time, rather than bushfires.

After 15 years as district officer of the Queensland Rural Fire Service based in Barcaldine between 1996 and 2011, Larry Lewis saw how weeds could spread across the landscape.

His knowledge served him well when he moved on to work as the NRM officer with Origin Energy in the Surat Basin but the plan by the Barcaldine Regional Council to move forward with a Good Neighbour pest and weed containment program gave him the opportunity to return to the west.

Mr Lewis is now based at Alpha and says he's preparing for a lot of community engagement in his new role.

The Good Neighbour Program is modelled on the award-winning program designed by the Flinders Shire Council in 2013-14 to help reduce the spread of prickly acacia.

Under its mantra and through a similar case study extended to the Muttaburra area in 2015-16, landholders agree to maintain a weed-free buffer zone from property boundaries and upstream of defined watercourses.

Originally a 10m buffer for fence lines, that was extended to 20m in the Muttaburra study and it's the distance that will be used in the Barcaldine program.

According to DAF analysis of the Muttaburra case study, the greater distance was found to be "quick, easy and inexpensive to achieve...with small operational teams", and to totally eliminate over-the-fence browsing of seed pods and pod drop into adjoining properties.

In the Muttaburra study, weeds affected around 170km of fenceline boundaries.

For watercourses, the buffer width continues to be 250m upstream of where it crosses a boundary.

While the spread of weeds will be the main concern for Mr Lewis as he carries out the two-and-a-half year long project, he said it could be used just as well for the containment of pest animals.

"We want every neighbour to participate in this," he said. "The council will be doing its bit, controlling boundaries on stock routes and reserves."

Prickly acacia is one of the main weeds on the radar but Mr Lewis said parkinsonia, rubber vine and belly ache bush were also of concern, as well as parthenium in the Alpha region and Mother of Millions in the Jericho area.

The program has been funded by DAF and the Barcaldine Regional Council and partners include Desert Channels Queensland, NT Dry Tropics and Desert Uplands.

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