How to Help the River
How Community Members Can Help
There are many things we can do to maintain river health in the Bellinger and Kalang catchments and support the recovery of the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle.
1. Donate to Bellingen Riverwatch
To help build a picture of a catchments’ health, ongoing and regular monitoring of water quality is required to build what’s called ‘baseline data’ - a long-term picture of what’s considered normal conditions for that particular waterway. This baseline information is important for river health and the future of the turtles, as the more we know about the river the better informed we are regarding what to do next.
Sustaining a highly functioning community project such as this requires adequate on-ground scientific and administrative support to ensure that our volunteers are well trained and equipped, our data is well communicated and our partnerships are nurtured. Make a regular or one-off gift to support this program into the future.
2. Go before you Go
Go to the toilet before you leave home when visiting the river. The only public toilet on the Bellinger, Never Never and Kalang rivers is at Lavenders Bridge.
3. Keep a Clean Routine
Thorough cleaning of boats and equipment when moving from place to place on the Bellinger and between the Bellinger and other waterways reduces the risk of transporting the BRV virus. Wash down canoes with soapy water and dry thoroughly before re-use.
Community members can also help minimise the risk of spreading the virus by swimming in only one location, or cleaning and drying swimming gear between visits.
4. Report Turtle Sightings
Report turtle sightings using Turtle SAT, and report nesting sites, and sick or dead turtles on (02) 6659 8200 or Shane.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. To report sick or dead turtles, phone 131 555.
- About the Bellingen River Snapping Turtle
- How to Use Turtle Sat
- NSW Government Threatened Species App
5. Subscribe to our free Monthly River Health News
Each month, we send out a River Health newsletter, reporting on the parameters that are of particular importance to turtle recovery - Available Phosphates and Dissolved Oxygen. Sign up here
6. Buy a T-shirt or Keep-Cup
Another great way to spread the word is by wearing one of our awesome t-shirts or using one of our keep-cups.
7. Volunteer with Us
We are always in need of more volunteers to support our monthly monitoring across the catchment. Roving Volunteers support the testing at core sites and step in if our water testing volunteers are ill or away.
8. Sponsor Us
Bellingen Riverwatch is currently seeking sponsors to support this wonderful project.
9. Come to an Event
Bringing people together around river health is incredibly important for our future.
We want to raise awareness far and wide about river health, the plight of the turtle, and how our local and global communities can help. By liking us on Facebook, you can help build our community of supporters.
How River Landholders can help
We all live in the catchment, however, landholders have an important role in maintaining river health and supporting the recovery of the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle. The main actions identified in the Bellinger River Health Plan (2010) to improve river health are management of stock access to the river and fencing off the riparian zone, preventing fertiliser runoff and drains on farms.
1. Restore River Banks
Improving the condition of the riparian vegetation and stabilising riverbanks is important for maintaining water quality and habitat for aquatic animals in the Bellinger and Kalang rivers. Without action to protect and restore these important areas, it is likely we will see a gradual decline in the health of our waterways through reduced water quality, the loss of riparian vegetation for birds and wildlife, and the smothering of macroinvertebrates, native fish and seagrass habitats with sediments washed into the river from eroding riverbanks.
Native vegetation plays a vital role in river bank restoration. Whilst erosion and deposition of sediment are natural river processes, the accelerated rates of erosion seen today are the result of removal of native vegetation over time through land clearing, over-grazing and other development pressures. This in turn leads to the loss of productive land and valuable habitat and impact on water quality and aquatic habitats downstream. The effect of accelerated erosion are especially significant during floods. Disturbance or destruction of river bank vegetation and weed invasion has also severely limited the ability of river banks to repair themselves through natural regeneration of vegetation between flood events.
In their current state, river banks need active assistance and management to maintain and improve their stability and resistance to erosion. Planting river banks with native species which are adapted to the pressures of this dynamic environment is a valuable way to ensure our river estuaries remain healthy.
The vegetation naturally occuring on estuarine river banks changes as the river water becomes less salty upstream. The Bellinger and Kalang estuaries have four vegetation zones characterised by particular groupings of plant species and their preferred location on the river bank. See the following for more info:
- Download Bellinger River Estuary Revegetation Guide leaflet
- Download Ecohealth: An aquatic ecosystem health check for the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers
- Download Growing Lomandra from Seed, Bellinger Landcare
2. Best Practice Stock Management
Best practice for stock management should address the following aspects: Fencing, off-river, Stock watering points, Formed access points. Stock management is vital for riparian health to reduce:
- Damage to riparian vegetation from grazing and trampling, leaving banks exposed.
- Compaction of soil by hard hooves, subsequent erosion and degradation of the river structure.
- Pollution resulting from sediment washing into the water course from erosion sites.
- Stirring of sediment and damage to aquatic habitats caused by cattle loitering in streams.
- Pollution resulting from cattle defecation.
- Weed growth, through high nutrient loads from dung and disturbed riparian vegetation.
- Stock exposure to water borne parasites, disease and footrot.
Download Bellinger River System Landholder Booklet: Best Practice for a Healthy River or request a copy of the booklet from Bellingen Shire Council.
3. Best Practice Fox Management
Turtle nest predation by foxes is a major threat to the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle. Wild dogs kill and maul stock and pets threaten populations of native animals, have a social impact on farming and rural families, and are a reservoir for disease spread.
To enquire about the times and locations of baiting courses, contact Mick Elliott of the Grafton Ag Dept on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0408 352 174.
4. Best Practice OSMS Management
On-site Sewage Management Systems (OSMS) are the treatment systems that collect wastewater from the home for the treatment and discharge into composting or septic system located within the property of unsewered areas of the shire. By maintaining best practice OSMS management, river landholders can contribute significantly to keeping our rivers healthy. For more info see: