Watershed Landcare Incorporated has received $18,900 in funding, which will be put towards their new 'Wild Encounters' project - to engage and educate about threatened species in the local area.
Chair of the community group, Vivien Howard, said that it's timely to commence the project now, after a devastating bushfire season - especially in the east of the region. With Wild Encounters to include field days for the community at locations such as Putta Bucca Wetlands.
"For a while Watershed has been looking to undertake a threatened species and biodiversity project in our region. And particularly on the back of bushfires and a lot of habitat loss on the eastern edge of the region," she said.
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"It's an opportune time to be undertaking this project, so we're really appreciative.
"There's a species called the greater glider, which is quite iconic in that it has big fluffy ears and looks a little bit like an ewok, and it's found in the east of the region around Dunn Swamp.
"And there's some bird species, the powerful owl and the brown treecreeper, which we can find at Putta Bucca Wetlands. Also the eastern bent-wing bat, that often roosts in culverts and man-made places, as well as the spot-tailed quoll.
"They're all native to this area and were chosen because they were iconic or easy for us to find. So the project is going to enable us to run a number of different field days for the community and families, to try and survey for these species."
Funding was provided under the Australian Government's Communities Environment Program. With Federal Member for Calare and Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education, Andrew Gee, enthusiastic about the aim of the Wild Encounters to "engage and educate the community about our threatened species".
"This is a very exciting project and I really think that it will help to raise awareness about our unique Aussie, local wildlife we have here," he said.
"We all know how devastating the recent bushfires were and I think that did raise awareness of how fragile our flora and fauna can be - and how we can lose them so quickly.
"So I really think that this project is about education and highlighting to locals the value around native wildlife. And some of it is truly unique.
"It also gets people to think about what we can do to protect them and make sure they're around for generations to come."
Mr Gee also praised the group for the role they play.
"Watershed does terrific work right around this region, but it's very timely after the bushfires that they're focusing in on getting these educational projects up and running," he said.
"And they're not only working on projects like this, but they're doing an awful lot of work in terms of revegetation, and addressing and preventing erosion on our farms.
"It's amazing to think that they've now been able to put together a project like this, among everything else they've been doing, but we're very lucky to have them. It's valuable for the here and now and also for future generations, because if we lose those species it's not only a loss for this area but a loss for Australia."
Putta Bucca Wetlands extension completed
Council has completed an extension of the Putta Bucca Wetlands expanding the site and increasing habitat for more than 180 bird species.
As part of the two-year project the nearby decommissioned sewerage treatment plant outlet pond was remediated with major earthworks and revegetated and incorporated into the wetlands reserve.
Council secured $89,250 through the NSW Government's Environmental Trust Restoration and Rehabilitation Grant Initiative for the jointly-funded project.
General manager Brad Cam said the Putta Bucca Wetlands is a great example of a disused site being regenerated for the benefit of the environment and our community.
"I am delighted to say more than 180 bird species have recorded at the wetlands, in addition to platypus, turtles, wallabies and many other animals," he said.
"As part of the project we've also extended the 2.5km walking track, constructed a new barbecue area and installed information signage around the reserve."
The wetlands will join up with a walking loop from Mudgee CBD to Glen Willow and returning via Putta Bucca and along Ulan Road. This pathway is currently under construction.
Putta Bucca Wetlands is a Council managed recreational area located on the western edge of Mudgee. It was once the site of an old gravel quarry and has been progressively remediated by Council and community volunteers since 2010.