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Friday, October 3, 2014

Boonah Bicentennial Park - Not as nice as it once was


Boonah Bicentennial Park 2nd October 2014 - showing extensive "vegetation removal"
Grey-Headed Flying Foxes at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

On our way home from our camping trip, we stopped at the beautiful little town of Boonah to buy some lunch. We then drove to the Boonah Bicentennial Park to sit down and enjoy our lunch in the lovely little area that is home to a few small lakes, picnic grounds, and the Boonah Walking Trail Hill.  On arrival I was instantly shocked at how different the landscape of the hill behind the park, was since my last visit some years ago. I remembered this beautiful little spot for it's lovely trees and general environmental look, but on this visit we were shocked to see almost all of the beautiful native gums and native trees that were growing on the Boonah lookout hill all cut down and left on the ground. At first, I couldn't fathom why this beautiful area had suffered such destruction from man, and we debated if they were changing the look and doing re-planting, or if the trees has become too large and had covered the Boonah sign, but discussed how surely they would have just been lopped, not removed if that was the case.  There wasn't any evidence of any foliage re-planting, just a mass amount of weeds that had over taken the area since the trees were cut-down.  Quite honestly the area looked  very unpleasant and unwelcoming entrance to the town compared to how it once was.  It wasn't until some time walking around the little lakes at the base of the hill that our son spotted a few Grey-Headed Flying Foxes in some small shrubs (looked like flowering peach/weeds) near the top of the hill, instantly we realized that this lovely area had suffered the same fate as areas all over the country with "vegetation management" aka "tree clearing" to remove flying foxes.  What a shame.

Grey-Headed Flying Foxes at Boonah Bicentennial Park 2014

On returning home I did some further research to confirm our suspicions and we were right, the trees were removed to disband the flying foxes to ensure that local human residents were comfortable. On reading up on this topic it, like in many other areas, the decision to remove the trees in Boonah was quite controversial, and looks like it wasn't completely successful with a few Grey-Headed Flying foxes left trying to survive in what habitat is left.  See News Article from the Queensland Times here: http://www.qt.com.au/news/bat-colony-moved-on-from-park/2250830/

It is interesting to note that the approach to this issue of vegetation management in Boonah varies from the approach in the Toowoomba Shire for the same "problem" where Toowoomba clears the lower levels of foliage (i.e. lantana, large weeds and shrubs) under the large trees making the area "unappealing" to flying foxes, whereas Boonah has cleared all of the large gum trees and left the lower foliage.
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Boonah Bicentennial Park 2/10/14 showing recent vegetation removal

Large Gum Trees cut down at Boonah Bicentennial Park 2/10/14 during recent vegetation removal

Boonah Bicentennial Park 2/10/14 showing recent vegetation removal (a huge contrast to the image we found on the internet taken 9 years ago! see below)
Boonah Bicentennial Park 2004 - Photo thanks to Wikmapia.org http://wikimapia.org/11760770/Bicentennial-Park  One can only imagine how large the trees shown in this photo 9 years ago would have been at the time of their removal in 2014.

We took a few photos of some of the birds at the park, habituating the small wetland areas and then headed home, but left feeling rather disappointed about the current condition of this small area that once was very picturesque.

Dusky Moorhen at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

Golden-headed Cisticola at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

We spotted this cute little nest amongst the reeds  on the edges of the small lakes at Boonah Bientennial Park 02/10/14.  We wondered if it was the nest of the Golden Headed Cisticola we saw nearby?

Brown Honeyeater at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

Welcome Swallow at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14  

I must note how refreshing it was to see this plaque and tree planted (see below)  in the memory of Steve Irwin,  (by the Friends of John Denver) in this location that was once a nice little pocket of environmental habitat.

J & B

Memorial Tree and Plaque for Steve Irwin at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

Memorial Tree and Plaque for Steve Irwin at Boonah Bicentennial Park 02/10/14

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