Reducing the amount of fine sediment entering waterways and flowing to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon is a major goal of the Herbert River Gully and Grazing Program.
Research has shown that the Herbert catchment is a top-three contributor of fine sediment to the Great Barrier Reef. The other two are the Burdekin and Fitzroy catchments in the state’s south.
Most of the sediment is coming from the erosion of subsoil from gullies and streambanks caused by old historic grazing practices but another issue identified in the Herbert is leaking tailings dams from old tin mines.
The $3 million Gully & Grazing project is being delivered by Terrain NRM over five years with funding from the Australian Government's Reef Trust IV program. It includes major earthworks to reshape gullies, changes to grazing practices, fencing to keep stock away from streambanks, off-stream watering infrastructure, revegetation work and weed management.
In order to help change grazing practices, landholder workshops are being held on a range of subjects from pasture management practices to soil health, in a region spanning about 340km - from Ingham near the coast to Ravenshoe in the upper Tablelands.
By working with grazing landholders in the Upper and Lower Herbert catchment, Terrain NRM's project team have identified sites for remediation works and three projects have since been undertaken in the in the Upper Herbert region. A number of other earthworks projects, in partnership with landholders, are on the cards for the next three to five years.
The team is currently working closely with the owners of Woodleigh Cattle Station in the Mt Garnet area, where proactive work over many years before this project has made them great partners. There has been gully monitoring and botanical surveys, fencing and gully remediation work on the property, which includes both eroded gullies and tailings dams from old alluvial tin mines.
The team is currently building a 100m-long rock chute to divert water away from a large and actively eroding gully. This project has been expertly engineered for an environment where the gully head moved 70m in the past year. The structure also includes a staged fish passage so fish can continue to travel from creek to dam despite a four-metre ascent.