East Gippsland Shire Council will construct a new section of walking trail that will provide a connection from Bairnsdaleʼs Riverine Street to the Mitchell River Walk.
Works will commence from today (Wednesday, June 26) and it is expected that the track will be completed by July 31.
Council’s chief executive officer, Anthony Basford, said this new section of trail will replace an old connection from the residential area that is no longer maintained or accessible.
“The new trail connection is going to be constructed through the area where poplar trees were removed by council a number of years ago,” Mr Basford said.
“Our ability to undertake the track construction work has been delayed by the ongoing presence of grey-headed flying foxes and the very limited opportunities to undertake works without impacting negatively on the colony. We are now able to construct the trail because the colony has recently vacated the site.”
Council committed to the construction of a replacement track through the area where vegetation has been removed to provide an off road alternative route around rather than through the colony.
Mr Basford said undertaking the construction of this new track enables council to meet requirements agreed to as part of the approvals linked to the removal of poplar trees.
“Creation of this alternative off road connection and the closure of a short section of the Mitchell River Walk that currently traverses through the roosting area will mean that council is able to eliminate risks to track users given the state of the vegetation,” Mr Basford said.
Given the steep nature of the land, a trail has been designed to provide a continuous path of travel using switchbacks to ensure that the track is not too steep. The new trail will be connected to the Mitchell River Walk by a newly constructed gravel path and the remainder of the trail will be constructed with a concrete surface. Following the completion of the trail, the area will be revegetated in a way that is suitable to the location and proximity to the new trail.
The area where the works will be undertaken will be closed to the public for safety and operational reasons. During this period users of the Mitchell River Walk will be temporarily directed around the site from Dog Hole Road and access adjacent to the look out to the west of the grey-headed flying fox colony to Riverine Street.
“The works are weather dependent and our staff and contractors will be working to minimise the disruption to nearby residents and users of the walking track. Authorised persons only will be permitted at the site,” Mr Basford said.
Council will not be undertaking works that will see the removal of vegetation used by the colony as part of the works. There may be an opportunity to trim vegetation over hanging footpaths where council’s usual maintenance and clearance regime have not been met.
“As the land manager for this section of the Mitchell River corridor, council appreciates the environmental sensitivities of the site,” Mr Basford said.
“Any future actions taken to modify the existing vegetation will need to be considered in the context of council’s decision to explore a more strategic approach to the way that the area traditionally occupied by the grey-headed flying fox colony is managed into the future.”
Following completion of construction works, council will design and install interpretative signage about the grey-headed flying fox colony. Opportunities to provide a viewing area in conjunction with the new track will also be reviewed.
Details of the works program have been provided to nearby residents and user and interest groups.