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Looking After Soil and Water in the Mitchell River Catchment

South Cape York Catchments (SCYC), Northern Gulf Natural Resource Management (Northern Gulf RMG) and Cape York NRM are working with graziers in the Mitchell River Catchment to help protect soils and waterways.

Last year, Cape York NRM and Northern Gulf RMG worked with Maitland, Old Maitland, Spring Hill, and Bonny Glenn Stations. This year Balurga, Harkness, and Strathaven Stations are coming on board.

The project, delivered by South Cape York Catchments Program Manager Jessie Price-Decle, aims to support graziers to tackle soil management challenges. On-ground projects will reduce soil loss and improve creeks and rivers, which has the knock-on effect of improving marine environments.

‘Stations in the Mitchell Basin have similar land management issues to lots of cattle stations on the Cape, including erosive soil types, wildfires, weeds and feral animals’ Jessie said.

‘There are some significant alluvial gullies across the region and late season fires are a real problem - often they're illegally lit by outsiders. In 2019 a fire lit in the Palmer River catchment spread for months across to and past Laura, burning out many properties. There are also infestations of weeds like rubber vine and grader grass which can outcompete native vegetation, impacting both biodiversity and grazing profitability.”

 ‘We are working with land managers to support them to better manage these kinds of problems,’ Jessie said.

‘On ground projects this year aim to spread grazing pressure more evenly over the properties. Work like this can protect sensitive river edges, reduce hillslope erosion, and protect areas of bare ground. We also hope to do some early aerial burning with Cape York NRM’s Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitator Andrew Hartwig - he's got a good plan of what breaks could go in to save these properties from getting burnt out at the end of each year.’

Jessie said there are no quick fixes when it comes to tackling issues like erosion, wildfires and feral pests and weeds, but you could see results from some actions within a year.

‘Some simple soil conservation measures on property tracks can prove themselves in one wet season, while other actions, like good fire management and pest control, need to continue on each and every year.’

‘The project team has a good history of supporting Cape York graziers to make management changes on their properties. I’ve never worked in the Mitchell Catchment before, so I’m personally really excited to get out on the ground in the coming dry season to learn about a new area and work with a different grazing community.’

This project is funded by the Queensland Government's Natural Resources Investment Program