Landcare is facing serious challenges preparing Imperial Lakes Nature Park from thieves and vandals
On the very first day in mid-January when Landcare acquired the Imperial Lakes property to turn into a nature park, a tool was stolen and almost daily since, the environmental group has suffered trespass, property damage, and even threatening conduct towards its volunteers.
Last week, one of Landcare’s volunteer workers was confronted by a number of aggressive men. The volunteer was repairing a boundary fence that had been cut. The men told the volunteer that whatever he did with the fence, they’d tear it down, and if they found Landcare’s security cameras, they’d smash them, and that whatever Landcare did at the Lakes, they wouldn’t be stopped from coming into the property and doing whatever they wanted to do.
That very night, the new fencing repairs were destroyed.
On another occasion last week, another section of the boundary fence was again cut and pulled away, allowing a large 4wd to be driven into the Nature Park, across unformed tracks and bush and onto the beach of the Eastern Lake.
These unwanted visitors were treated with caution by the Landcare team members, so they were not approached, but rather observed from afar. It was clear, say the team members, as evidenced by their litter left, that they were drinking alcohol and taking drugs. The adults in the group had a child or children with them at the time, volunteers reported.
This beach damaged by the trespassing, and its lake, is home to a pair of nesting Black Swans, amongst many other species of waterfowl. These swans, a few weeks back, tragically suffered what appears to have been dog attack, which resulted in their nest mound and clutch of eggs being totally destroyed.
Black Swans are a protected species under both the Australian National Parks & Wildlife Act 1979 and the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
“Two Black Swans suffered what appears to have been a dog attack. Their nest mound and clutch of eggs were totally destroyed.”
After volunteers discovered the destroyed nest, a trespasser with two big ‘pig dogs’, was approached. He firmly replied, say volunteers, that he’s always used the Lakes property for his dogs to run and swim, he would continue to do so, that they’d never stop him, and ‘the locals’ would never allow any fences erected to stay up.
Landcare Broken Hill is a community-wide membership based organised, with near 600 members and supporters on its books. A large number are seniors, and some are on disability and aged pensions.
Landcare provides services, on a voluntary basis to whoever seeks assistance with environmental projects. As confirmation of how highly valued Landcare projects are considered, most projects are supported by partner organisations and individuals who provide sponsorship and/or philanthropic funding, or support-in-kind. Occasional government grant funding also underlines Landcare is seen as providing an essential community service.
Landcare’s vision for its Nature Park project is unique in Australia, combining nature conservation, passive recreation, ecotourism, and environmental education/vocational training.
Landcare’s aim is to create an environmental recreational asset for all of Broken Hill and the Far West, while also creating a tourism attraction which will bring travellers from afar, boosting the local economy. All of this is to be achieved through community effort, by the community, for the community.
Once constructed the plan is for the Nature Park to be self-funding, following the initial capital expenditure to be derived from, primarily, private philanthropy and commercial sponsorship. When Landcare opens the Nature Park, the organisation will encourage all of Broken Hill to join in sharing a community asset through Landcare membership, Nature Park membership or daily, weekly or monthly visitor passes.
Landcare’s President, Simon Molesworth, told us Landcare had no intention of locking the Nature Park up, quite the contrary.
“Landcare seeks to share the Park with the widest possible community,” he said.
“We can only do so if the Park is safe and secure from those who would appear to want to selfishly pursue their own unlawful activities, thereby threatening and excluding others. We are calling on all the good people in Broken Hill to stand up and show that they do not support the sort of anti-social behaviour experienced over the last few weeks.”
Multiple security measures are now being taken to ensure the Imperial Lakes Nature Park will be safe for those who wish to share the enjoyment of this special place with other community members, Mr Molesworth said.
“It would be inappropriate to describe our safeguards as the good people in this town just need an assurance, and to those who would do us harm, I simply say “you are forewarned”.
Police have been informed about the incidents at Imperial Lakes.