Signs for wildlife

TURTLES: Lake Meran has a healthy turtle population.

TURTLES: Lake Meran has a healthy turtle population.

LOCAL Landcare groups have recently received grants from the North Central Catchment Management Authority to continue works along the Gunbower State Forest.

The Gunbower Landcare Group and Turtles Australia both received funds, with the area's Landcare volunteers to use their contribution to increase awareness of the history and wildlife in the forest.

"The Yorta Yorta [traditional owners of that area] have different template [signs] for different parts of the country, like sandhill ridges or wetland, so we are going to get them to tweak a few things so they relate to Gunbower," Gunbower Landcare group secretary, Audrey Dickins said.

The signs will add another element to the forest, a popular spot for holiday-makers and locals alike, according to Gateway to Gannawarra Centre's Elaine Bartram.

"Almost everyone who stays in Cohuna goes out to the island, the creek, and the Murray - it's very much a part of everyday life," she said.

Another project that will come out of the funding is the creation and installation of animal crossing signs that will be rather unusual - purple swamp hen signs.

"Previously though partnership with the Gunbower and District Development Group we got some funding to put up turtle crossing signs. Now we have the funding to put up the swamp hen signs with the same type of poles," Ms Dickins said.

"On Gunbower Island we have lots of lunettes, sand dunes and sandhills, and the turtles come out of the lagoons and nest on the sandhills. But we've got roads in some of those hills, and the swamp hens are in the same area, and they get [in trouble] with the cars as well."

The sign projects are a part of the Recognition: Environmental and Aboriginal Cultural Values project, which aims to increase community awareness and understanding of environmental and Aboriginal values in the Gunbower Creek area.

"Working with the Yorta Yorta, we're trying to improve things for future generations as well as wildlife," Ms Dickins said.

Meanwhile, the creation of signs highlighting local species and efforts to survey populations numbers will be Turtles Australia's focus after receiving Landcare funding from the North Central Catchment Management Authority.

Turtles Australia president, Graham Stockfeld said that the grant of just over $6000 will be used in a two-pronged approach. 

"We're going to be putting up some signage that will have photos of different species which exist in the area and information about the turtles and the threats they are facing, as well as how people can help," he said.

The signs will go up in high-traffic areas throughout the forest, as well as in the township of Cohuna itself along the creek.

"[This is] so when they see turtles, they might be thinking a bit more about them, plus it's an opportunity to get feedback from people on what they are seeing," Mr Stockfeld said. 

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