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Catlemen Return – Treasure Family Protest

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Originally published on Bundarrah Days 10 May 2006

The Treasure family, a pioneering Victorian High Country family, drove cattle into the Alpine National Park on the Dargo High Plains today as a protest against the cancellation of their high country grazing licences.

The President of the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria, Doug Treasure, said the protest has been strongly supported by mountain cattlemen all round the high country.

He responded to suggestions that the family had been compensated by saying that any money just covered short-term transitional expenses.

“Nothing can adequately compensate mountain cattlemen for the way we have been treated,” he said.

Doug Treasure said, “The protest highlights my family’s fear that country which has been in our care for 125 years will be devastated due to the Government’s decision to ban grazing. The blanket ban does not take into account different land management needs of various High Country areas.

“Our cattle run sits 1000 feet below areas such as Bogong and is made up of sturdy basalt country that is below the tree line, yet the Bracks’ government is treating all high country regions the same – this is not good land management practice.

“We’re taking the personal risk of putting the cattle back out onto our former runs because we know our mountain spurs and gullies will suffer the same fate as other Victorian weed infested and charred National Parks. The ban has been a political decision, not an environmental one and we’re grieving for the future of our mountains. ”

Mr Treasure said his family was investigating Tasmanian Government legislation which deems cattle grazing as an integral part of the management of sensitive Parks areas, such as the delicate coastal areas of Tasmania’s Arthur Pieman River and the world famous Cradle Mountain area.

“The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife quotes science that shows grazing makes sense. Parks management enlists the help of cattlemen to graze the Parks, not because of traditional practice, but because it benefits the land and it is the most economical way of management.

“Cattle will this year graze the pristine Cradle Mountain Park because it increases diversity of plant species and reduces the fuel load for fires. In their studies they’ve found that areas periodically grazed carried 240 native plant species including wild flowers, versus areas restricted from grazing which had less than half that number.

“The Tasmanian system is also based on local people managing the areas they know and have a lifelong vested interest in. The committees are made up of representatives from each user group so that the best interests of the land is upheld.”

Mr Treasure said the Tasmanian system advocates grazing and is documented within the Arthur Pieman Conservation Management Plan. This plan has been legislated by Tasmanian Parliament and has worked on both a community and environmental level for years.

“We are calling for the same sensible structure in Victoria. And that’s why we have taken cattle into our formerly grazed areas. We have to maintain this link, not for the sake of our economics, but for the sake of our land. If Parks Victoria were progressive, they would enrol our skills to help in land management including advice on cool fuel reductions burns.”

Doug Treasure’s daughter-in-law and best selling novelist, Rachael Treasure said city-centric decision making had devastated the Dargo High Plains area.

She said, because cattlemen had been banned by bureaucracy from traditional fuel reduction burns for 30 years the 2003 fires decimated the Park area to the point where many areas will never regain its original bio-diversity.

“This ‘top-down’ land management regime by the Department is not working. Land management decisions should be bolstered by the knowledge of well informed locals such as the process used in Tasmania,” Mrs Treasure said.

“I was on the ride in January when the MCAV took cattle into the Wonnangatta
National Park as a protest. I was horrified to see Parks had allowed thousands of hectares to become choked with weeds and the area carrying a massive fuel load.

“Our family know that our treasured Long Spur, Kings Spur, Lanky’s and Omeo Plain where we ran cattle will suffer the same fate.

“It’s clear our family and other cattlemen have been picked off as a minority group and held up as an environmental evil. In reality it is the opposite – we’re protesting because the environment will suffer if our family and our cattle are taken away.

“It’s devastating because we could have a system like the Tasmanian one where Parks Victoria see us as allies and they can enlist us in helping both the environment and boosting the tourist dollar.”

“It’s crippling to think my husband John, who grew up on those mountains won’t be able to show his kids or any other Australian where Angus McMillan, discoverer of Gippsland, blazed a tree to make a trail or where the best orchids grow.

“And now there’ll be no reason to saddle up a horse, put on a backpack of spray and go down into the gullies to fight the weeds.

“We’ll have to leave it up to the Parks Victoria employees who don’t spray further than the reach of their 4WD vehicle’s hose or further than the meagre weed control funding they get. It would be nice to think we will still be around to help them out and show them where all the trails once were.”

NOTE: The Maguire and Connley families of the Southern Bogong High Plains have not accepted any compensation from the Victorian Government over alpine grazing and will not do so in the future. Nor do we accept that our licence areas are gone.

ABC Goulburn Murray | Local News | Story
Liberals support mountain cattlemen
Thursday, 11 May 2006. 14:14 (AEDT)

Written by Greg Naylor

11 May 2006 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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