Wonboyn Lake landowner Don Ross is concerned for the environment

SPEAKING OUT: Wonboyn Lake landowner Don Ross is concerned for the future of the lake.
SPEAKING OUT: Wonboyn Lake landowner Don Ross is concerned for the future of the lake.

Wonboyn Lake landowner Don Ross is taking a stand over the health of the lake that he has held dear for 66 years.

Mr Ross and other Wonboyn Lake landholders are concerned that deforestation in the Wonboyn catchment area might be affecting the health of the lake, which has seen a gradual loss of sea grass, marine life and birds.

“I adore the place and have not seen much change until recent times,” Mr Ross said.

“The lake was known for its fishing and pristine environment, now we currently have no resident black swans and barely a fish to be seen.”

Mr Ross, along with four other members of the Wonboyn Lake Ratepayers' Association (WLRA), have formed a sub-committee to address the future of the lake.

Their first meeting, held late last month, discussed the lake entrance opening, siltation as result of “indiscriminate clearing”, deforestation and the condition of Wonboyn Rd that connects to the Princes Hwy.

Mr Ross said the WLRA was shunning its constitutional obligation “to maintain the pristine nature of Wonboyn Lake”.

“In my time Forestry (Corporation) has logged in our catchment area twice – in the 1970s and now. The lake was only just recovering from the 1970s event,” he said.

“The Wonboyn Lake catchment is a minute area compared to the total land available to be logged by Forestry.

“Forestry has destroyed our road with its timber trucks and devastated the scenic nature of the whole area.”

In February last year a meeting was held between Wonboyn residents and key government bodies to discuss whether an incidence of orange-coloured silt in the lake was linked to logging in the Wonboyn catchment.

At the time a Forestry Corporation spokesperson said a draft report issued by the NSW Environment Protection Authority cited no evidence the sediment was a result of forestry activities and consequently continued to log in the Wonboyn catchment.

In June 2015 the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) released a report into sources of suspended sediment in the Wonboyn River catchment following a heavy downpour on December 7, 2014.

The report stated that “no data or direct evidence exists to confirm or reject the hypothesis that forestry activities within the Lake Wonboyn catchment resulted in a higher than natural suspended sediment load reaching the lake during the rain event”.

The report did however reveal that current mapping and methodology used by Forestry Corporation was not sufficient to identify the true risk of soil erosion potential on certain soil types within the catchment.

It was suggested that a review of the regolith mapping and methodology for identifying soil erosion risk was required.

Mr Ross is planning to take the sub-committee’s concerns to the OEH and Bega Valley Shire Council as part of its Coastal Zone Program.

“This is a major opportunity to correct these problems,” Mr Ross said.