Successful planting day will help harbour health

30 volunteers planting at Big Omaha Valley Road John and Martha Williams property in Omaha Valley Road – Chrissy Henley

On Saturday 19th May about 30 volunteers from Whangateau Harbour Care, Sandspit SOS Inc, Forest and Bird, and Omaha Beach Community helped plant around 1980 native trees and grasses on John and Martha Williams property in Omaha Valley Road.  This is the latest in a series of riparian plantings over the last few years on the property.

The Williams  property is in the headwaters of the Omaha River which runs directly into the northwestern corner of Whangateau Harbour.  The Omaha River catchment supplies a high proportion of the sediment runoff finding its way into the harbour.  Excluding stock and planting stream fringes is one way of reducing sediment load and improving harbour health.

A few showers early in the day soon gave way to long fine intervals so planting could proceed efficiently on the easy contour next to a small stream.  Now that stock are excluded from the stream bed and the banks planted, we should see substantial improvement and recovery of the stream itself.

Auckland Council’s Chrissy Henley introduced the planting session, and after a short demonstration on the best way to plant the trees to give them a good start the team got to work digging holes, dropping in a fertilizer pellet, and bedding the plants properly into the ground.

John had previously heavily grazed and spot-sprayed the area and laid out most of the plants in anticipation of the days “labour force”.  Many a jovial conversation could be heard amongst the planters, and it was obviously a fun way to maintain some community contacts.

Rachel Griffiths from Auckland Council’s WaiCare project checking the water clarity – Chrissy Henley

Rachel Griffiths from Auckland Council’s WaiCare project demonstrated water quality sampling in the stream during a break.  She found that water clarity and other physical and chemical attributes of the stream were in surprisingly good condition.  This observation was backed up by the finding of a large eel in the stream, and some woody-cased caddisfly larvae usually found in forested streams.

Rachel Griffiths looking for life in the stream – Ian Macdonald

The Williams put on a sausage sizzle for lunch, and soon afterwards the last of the allocation of plants was in the ground.  The task was completed well before the anticipated 3pm finish time, so a few of us had a debrief meeting at the Omaha Organic Berries icecream shop in Matakana.

Williams put on a sausage sizzle for lunch in their barn – Chrissy Henley

Many thanks to all those who participated.  This is just one small but significant step towards maintaining and improving the health of the Whangateau Harbour and its inhabitants.  Watch this space for future planting days.

If you know of any land-owners in the Whangateau Harbour catchment who may be interested in a riparian planting project on their property please contact Whangateau HarbourCare Group via this website www.whangateauharbour.org.  There is good Council and community support for such projects.

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