They're Wild About Waihi

 

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WAIHI LEADER, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2005

They're Wild About Waihi

TEN years of hard slog by thousands of Waihi school students has paid off as the Ohinemuri River banks flourish with native growth.

Now the bridge-to-bridge Ohinemuri riverbank project between Coronation Bridge and Golden Valley Bridge is close to completion and the public are invited to contribute to the final plantings and three guided walks.

Only 80 metres of the bank is still to be planted and coordinator Andrew Jenks hopes many will come out with their gumboots and spades to put the last 500 or so plants into the ground.

The project has seen over 200,000 trees, shrubs, flaxes and grasses used to restabilise the banks mostly funded by Newmont Waihi Gold and Environment Waikato.

Volunteers are invited to follow the signposts and meet at the end of Mullans driveway situated at 45 Heath Rd at 11am on Saturday.

To celebrate the last planting a barbecue lunch will follow in the Clark St carpark.

As the bridge-to-bridge project draws to a close, the Habitat Enhancement and Landcare Programme (HELP) initiated by Waihi Gold in 1995 and based on a partnership between local schools the Hauraki District Council and Environment Waikato is changing its focus. Along with the new phase comes a new name "Wild About Waihi".

"We are now looking at some new projects establishing a riparian wildlife corridor along the length of the Waitete Stream and bringing back the birds to Union Hill," says Mr Jenks.

"We are also about to start placing canopy trees along the Ohinemuri now the sheltering species are well established."

Mr Jenks says that with the vast number of trees already established by Waihi Gold and Waihi's proximity to large tracts of forest there is potential for a great restoration project.

"Our first priority is to monitor the extent of pest populations in key areas, including Union Hill and the plantings along the Ohinemuri River.

"Our first round took place just a few days ago through the middle of Union Hill and I have never seen anything like it before, 100 per cent of the Trakka had pest prints. That means that the area we monitored is virtually carpeted with rats," he says.

At this time of the year birds are establishing nests and raising their first batch of chicks but these will be under great threat with this level of infestation. The next stage will be to set up bait stations to kill rodents and possums on the northeastern side of the hill initially, extending as more support comes from local volunteers.

"With Union Hill only a small distance down the road Waihi East School has adopted this project and students will be involved in all aspects of its development."

Mr Jenks says students can't handle bait and support will be required from parent volunteers and community members. Volunteers can contact Mr Jenks on 027 458 5286.

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Waihi District Walkways Inc. PO Box 241 Waihi New Zealand

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