Bringing Back the Fish on the Horton River

18 September 2013

Landholders in the Upper Horton Valley west of Bingara and the Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment Management Authority (CMA) are working together to rebuild native fish numbers and create a healthier Horton River. 

On Tuesday the 17th of September, the CMA and the Upper Gwydir Landcare Association (UGLA) hosted a barbecue at the Upper Horton Sports Club where locals gathered to chat about how to improve the health of the Horton River.

The Conservation Action Unit of NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), in collaboration with the Border Rivers Gwydir Catchment Management Authority, has undertaken extensive mapping of river health along a 100 kilometre stretch of the Horton.

A new Management Plan has now been drawn up to protect and link areas of the river that have been identified as having the highest habitat value for native fish species. 

At Tuesday's barbecue, Andrew Walsh from the Border Rivers-Gwydir CMA spoke with local landholders about the fact that the Horton River is an ideal location for this important project. The Horton River has a good record of fish species in it, has good water quality in a single valley and has limited urban and agricultural pressure on its flows – it is in a relatively natural state.

Simon Ferguson from NSW DPI Fisheries reported on the state of the Horton and explained how local people can get involved in improving the river's health. 

Priority areas along the Horton River have been identified and the CMA is offering support to farmers to take part in the project through two exciting incentive programs that are being rolled out in this area. 

As part of those incentive programs, the CMA can assist landholders to improve stock management through fencing off the riparian zone and the installation of off-river watering points so that animals are no longer eroding river banks and fragile aquatic vegetation.

On-ground works will also be implemented as part of the Management Plan to demonstrate the benefits of habitat reconstruction and protection for native fish.

The project will also involve the remediation of barriers to fish passage and the development and implementation of management plans to control Noxious Weeds and Weeds of National Significance such as Madiera vine (Anredera cordifolia), Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum) and Opuntioid cacti (Opuntia spp.), better known as Common Pear and Tiger Pear.

"All those at the barbecue were genuinely interested in the health of the Horton River – it is such a significant economic, social and environmental contributor to these farming families," said Andrew Walsh. 

"It's exciting to be working with the local community in the Horton Valley to turn around the decline in aquatic habitat."

For more information about the 'Bringing Back the Fish on the Horton River' project, contact Andrew Walsh at the Border Rivers-Gwydir CMA on 02 6728 8044  or Brooke Kelly at UGLA on 02 6724 2052.

CMAs are changing to become Local Land Services. More information is available at:  http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/locallandservices
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