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Upper Catchment Issues Vol 1 No 2 Section 3b

Author: Tasmanian Community Resource Auditors Incorporated

Section Three Part b
FORESTRY OPERATIONS

Machinery

According to the FPP section 5, "Due to the proximity of the town water supply, the following will apply,"

According to the FPB report (l8/5/0l), the expressed concerns about leaking hydraulic fluid from excavators was insignificant stating "...the hydraulic fluid leakage from the excavator has not caused any significant environmental harm" (appendix 7).

Mismatches with MAEMG audit relating to machinery:

1. Machinery Poorly Maintained

The supervisor should have picked this up and should have required the contractor to fix the problems. MAEMG suggests that the FPB investigate how much hydraulic oil was delivered to the logging site during the 3 month of operations. This would determine the amount that had actually been lost in the sensitive water protection zones (within 100m of a streamside protection zone).

2. Proximity of Fuel Tanker/re-fuelling station to streams

The MAEMG observed the refuelling tanker situated 30m away from water courses; both identified streams on the Eastern side of Mt Arthur Road and those not identified on the mountain side of Mt Arthur Road contravening FPP section C.5 (see Photo section. photo 7).

3. Fuel/oil contamination of soil and water

MAEMG also found evidence of significant diesel/oil spills:

Roading

The Mount Arthur Road is regularly used by members of the community for both access and recreation. The impacts of forestry operations on the Mount Arthur Road that MAEMG sees as significant are: Firstly, the loss of the historic nature of the road including its role in the overall cultural heritage of the area, secondly FT's non-compliance with the code regarding road maintenance and construction prior to commencement of operations in order to protect significant aspects such as water, soil, landscape and fauna and thirdly the ownership and responsibility of the road including the scant regard paid to the community by FT regarding use of this public road for during forestry operations from January - March 2001. During this period of operations, FT workers and contractors frequently used Doaks/Mt Arthur Road to gain access to the coupe and to load logs from roadside landings.

A. Cultural Heritage

As well as its contemporary use (vehicular and pedestrian) Mount Arthur Road is an historic landmark of the area, being a vital supply link to the lisle Goldfields and linking the townships of lilydale and Patersonia for nearly a century. The heritage value of this road was greatly diminished due to forestry operations.

B. Road Maintenance and Construction.

The FPC Jan 1993 states that "Upgrading of existing roads and tracks to Forest Practices Code standards will only be required if carting is likely to cause or has caused unacceptable soil erosion or has an unacceptable effect on water quality" (p.19) and that the planner will:

Mismatches with MAEMG audit relating to roading:

Before the commencement of operations, FT had failed to bring the road up to the required standard for a class 3 all weather road, violating FPC Jan 1993 section B1 and B2. Forestry operations within the area defined by the variation to the FPP, including carting, together with the first major rain event on 16th March 2001, caused unacceptable effect on a) the road itself, and b) water quality as Assoc. Prof. Finlayson's predictions that "much of the disturbed soil and rock from road surfaces will be picked up and washed into the streams causing ongoing sedimentation and increased turbidity..." (appendix 4) came to pass.

1. Dispersement of Water

"In order to protect water courses from contamination, water should be diverted from table drains into native vegetation during the last 50m before the road crosses a watercourse, to enable silt and sediment to be deposited before the water reaches the watercourse (FPC 1993. p.17). In contrast, Assoc. Prof. Finlayson found that throughout the coupe constructed roads had inadequate provision for the dispersement of water. He states, "The Mt Arthur Road was not adequately constructed, being flat with no table drains. Existing culverts had been damaged and/or covered... There were insufficient exits and undisturbed patches of vegetation, to enable adequate protection for streams. Instead, all run-off water would be expected to build up on road edges, collecting at the lowest points (where there were depressions and streams), and flow directly into the stream systems." (appendix 4).

2. Table Drains

"Table Drains should be dish-shaped and constructed to a minimum depth of 300 mm below the level of the top of the formation at the outer edge of the shoulder" (FPC Jan 1993, p17). Along Mt Arthur Road, during the period of operations, Jan - March 01 there were no table drains constructed. (Photo section photo 27). Due to operations, the existing culverts and road edges were damaged.

These observations were affirmed by three representatives from the Launceston City Council in a report following a visit to the area on the 19th of March 2001 (appendix 22).

3. Protection of Myrtle

FPC Jan. 1993 Page 16, FPC 2000, Page 13 states:

"Where roads are constructed through areas containing myrtle, myrtle wilt disease is a risk. Machine and falling damage to the adjacent myrtle stands and heaping of debris into the undisturbed myrtle area should be avoided." Obviously the same disease risk applies where huge amounts of logging waste is created and in LI 126C there are numerous situations both along roads elsewhere, where such slash has been deposited very close to remnant rainforest. (Photo section photo 21).

MAEMG contends that FT failed its obligations under the FPC Jan 1993 for road construction and maintenance.

C. Mt Arthur Road: Whose responsibility?

According to the FPB report (18/5/01) section 2.5, "The section of (Mt Arthur) road passing through the state forest operations is being progressively upgraded to an appropriate standard that will minimise environmental harm. Of more concern is the original section of privately maintained road beyond the forestry operation, which remains in very poor condition and is almost certainly contributing to turbid run-off." (appendix 7).
On the 9th of April three members of MAEMG met with Mr. Farmer at Bass District Office where the issue of Mt Arthur Road was discussed. At this meeting, Mr. Farmer asserted that after FT operations had ceased in the area, it was his desire to "put it (the road) to bed", which was understood by to MAEMG members present, that FT wanted to close off the road altogether.

Mismatches with MAEMG audit in relation to road maintenance:

Following exhaustive inquiries to both Launceston City Council and Dorset Council as well as inquiries to the Lands and Titles Office it was determined that responsibility for the maintenance of the road which runs for 15.98 km from Patersonia Rd. Patersonia, to Main Rd (Golconda Rd) lilydale, is as follows:

LCC     5.92 km from Patersonia Rd.
FT       3.5 km (approx.) passing Lone Star Rd junction towards lilydale and ending at the private land            boundary of Buchinger/Withopf  property.

Private Road for 1.5 km towards lilydale.

LCC     4.58 km (or 5.88 km) from end of Private Rd to lilydale Main
            Rd. This section is subject to some interpretation by LCC and
            landowners and is to be officially agreed. Currently the LCC
            maintains approx. 5.88 km of road from the lilydale main Rd.
            although officially a 4.58 km section is referred to.

Given the above, MAEMG notes that FT is not only responsible for Mt Arthur Road within the Coupe LI 126C, but also for the section of road that the FPB mistakenly claims is private road beyond the forestry operation "which remains in very poor condition and is almost certainly contributing to turbid run-off" (appendix 7). Further, Mr. Farmer's stated desire to close the road to public access after operations in the coupe had ceased was totally unacceptable to MAEMG due to the fact that the road has been a link road between two townships for nearly a century, is frequently used by local residents and the broader community, and that there had been no public consultation.

On two occasions MAEMG noted an absence of warning signs at the Patersonia end of the coupe, that forest operations were occurring along Mt Arthur Road (see appendix 20). At no time were signs posted either at lilydale or Patersonia to indicate that the road could be impassable due to harvesting or loading of logs, despite this being a public through road.

MAEMG concludes that the nature of forestry operations along Mt Arthur (and Lone Star Ridge Road) was invasive, non-selective and negatively impacted the heritage significance of the area. The damage to the existing road caused sediment and slush to be deposited in watercourses. The subsequent post-operations upgrading of the Mount Arthur Road, although addressing some of the environmental impacts, caused further demise of the cultural heritage value of the area.



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