Craigs Hill Bushland Reserve
Previously known as the old tip site, Sorell Council is in the early stage of investigating whether the bushland area surrounding Craigs Hill Road could be established as a public reserve.
With over 20 hectares of bushland which includes threatened vegetation and a habitat for Swift Parrots, Owls, Devils and Quolls – to name a few, it is important for Council to understand what community sees as priority opportunities for future use and management.
Community discussion kicked off with a ‘Walk and Talk’ at the site on Saturday 29 July 2023. It was fantastic to see a good number of people from across the municipality participate on the day who shared their experiences and ideas on how to achieve a successful outcome for the bushland.
Notes from the Walk and Talk
While the Walk and Talk was a great first step, there is much to be considered before Council is in a position to formally establish a Reserve, including the need for a natural values assessment that will be key to identify many assets movement and formalising the reserve.
Conversation on the day (and received from online feedback) generated many ideas, but also raised concerns which has been summarised in the below list. One important action which would need to be a community led commitment is the formation of a bushcare/bushland care group, responsible for leading activities in the Craigs Hill Bushland. Our NRM Facilitator will continue to work with community on what is required to activate a Landcare group.
Road upgrade: There is no formal plans put forward by the Council to sealing or upgrading of the Craigs Hill Road. However, there were concerns around pros and cons of such an upgrade. Some people opposed to the idea, while some supported it, citing safety and accessibility reasons – others concerned about potential loss of the trees due to widening of the road. However, there is no planning application on whether there will be upgrade of the Road. It will be advised in due course.
Formalising walking trails: There is a desire to create trails suitable for prams and wheelchairs and extending it beyond the site. The discussion around safe access to everyone is key to success and full use of the (potential) reserve. Formalising and maintaining the walking trail is key to the optimum use of the reserve. However, there are significant costs to building and maintaining reserve walkways as well as understanding the impact creating such a walking trail can cause to native flora and fauna. An assessment would need to be undertaken to delineate walking trail. A natural values assessment can be key to identifying areas where we can safely construct the walkways.
Concerns regarding horse trails and motorised bikes: Finding a balance and managing expectations in this regard was considered essential. Understanding the need for these types of activities as well as the impacts they may pose to the environment as well as others who share the common areas.
Dog walking limitations: Exploring the establishment of specific areas for dog walking and regulations on leash requirements. This type of activity is considered an important element to nurture mental wellbeing, however Council recognises the need to balance minimum acceptable disturbance to the natural fauna and meeting a key objectives to improve the area infested with weeds while optimising the use of the relatively unused part of the land.
Extending the bike trail: Suggestions were made to extend the bike trail into the more pristine areas of the North West. Natural values assessment can provide clear guidance on what are the areas where we can extend the bike trail safely considering natural flora/fauna values, waterways and landslip hazard areas.
Signposts: The need for signposts and interpretation signage to communicate safety information and to improve communities understanding and education of natural values and the site/area’s Aboriginal heritage were acknowledged. Council will communicate with local communities when more information is available.
Pine trees: Safety concerns related to pines during gusty periods were discussed, however immediate removal is not favoured as these trees may provide habitat for some species. Some members of the community pointed out it is good space around pines for kids to play which provides clear line of sight to watch kids while parents rest. When considering planning for gradual removal of pines, it may be worthwhile to seek funding opportunities for both removal and/or selling timber to gain seed funds to do some activities in the area.
Weed control: Addressing the issue of weeds and formulating a long-term plan, potentially involving a formalised Landcare/Bushcare group. This is one of the important parts of formalising a nature reserve and the necessary participation of local communities in the process. Discussions included Council doing a one off big clean-up and the communities going with regular follow ups. Further considering huge costs, work can be prioritized based on immediate impacts view in terms of invasiveness and identify those that can be dealt in later stages.
Amenities: Expectations around setting up amenities such as BBQ or picnic spots and installing toilets. Council would need to investigate further to determine immediate needs including securing sufficient funding.
Car park designation: Designating the car park areas where group first gathered was viewed as welcome idea by all. However, this represents a significant cost to Council and will entirely depend on securing funding through grants.
Feral and stray cats: Managing the site to prevent cat presence and enforcing prohibition (Cat Prohibited Reserve) was another important issue raised during the walk and talk. Education for landowners around the Reserve for responsible cat ownership and setting up traps for feral cats needs careful consideration and will be dependent on commitments from volunteers.
Fencing: Improving fencing is another key aspect discussed as a lot of illegal dumping of waste occurs. Without gated entry and fencing it is not possible to stop them from throwing rubbish.
Have your say
We are keen to keep hearing from our community and invite you to let us know what you think using our feedback form below or email us at: Sorell.Council@sorell.tas.gov.au