Partnering for Springs conservation

Damage to the Gosse and McLachlan Springs by hard-hooved animals on the Stuart Creek pastoral lease is the focus of the latest partnership between the Friends of Mound Springs (FOMS) and rangers from the Arabana Aboriginal Corporation.

Gosse and McLachlan Springs, located south of Lake Eyre South, are within a conservation area set up in an agreement between the South Australian Native Vegetation Council and BHP, as the holder of the Stuart Creek pastoral lease.

When inspected by FOMS in 2017, both springs were in very good condition, with brolgas observed at Gosse Springs. However, in May 2020, the Arabana Rangers noted that both Gosse and McLachlan Springs had been severely disturbed by horses.

At an on-site meeting in late August, a BHP representative, Arabana Rangers and FOMS volunteers discussed the impact feral horses were having on the springs. Options to address the problem were considered with fencing of a relatively large area around the springs preferred. The Arabana Rangers have continued negotiations with BHP representatives to finalise a work program to exclude horses from these springs.

The August field inspections provided an opportunity for the Arabana Ranger team and FOMS volunteers to work together to assist the conservation of the mound springs and to plan ongoing activities.

“The Arabana Ranger team is making a very significant contribution in the conservation and management of the mound springs and FOMS volunteers welcome the opportunity to be associated with the program,” FOMS Secretary Simon Lewis said.

“Their brief, to care for natural resources in Arabana country, including the conservation and management of mound springs, is an important objective.”

The current work follows collaboration between the Arabana Rangers and FOMS in a number of activities in 2020, including fence maintenance at Levi Springs, inspection of trial burn sites at Bopeechee and Beatrice Springs on Finniss Springs, and maintenance of the walking trails installed by FOMS in 2011 at Strangways Springs and Freeling Springs/Peake Overland Telegraph Site. At the Peake Overland Telegraph site, the Arabana Rangers installed five recycled plastic bollards at the carpark to replace deteriorating timber sleepers installed by FOMS in 2008.

The Arabana Rangers and FOMS volunteers also inspected Charles Angas and Cooryabbie bores on Finniss Springs, where flows have been maintained sufficiently to support sizeable sedge wetlands. The management of these sites will be the subject of future discussions between the two groups.