Page 63 - VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2020-21
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Traditional Owner cultural values and uses
The Gunaikurnai have had a continued connection to Gunaikurnai Country for thousands of years, including
with the waterways in the Latrobe River system (which
the Thomson River feeds into). For the Gunaikurnai as traditional custodians there are immense challenges to heal, protect and manage Country which has been drastically altered since colonisation. Gunaikurnai see all of Country
as connected with no separation between landscapes, waterways, coasts and oceans and natural and cultural resources – the cultural landscape is interdependent.
Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) are working with the West Gippsland CMA to determine how to express Gunaikurnai objectives for water in a way that contributes to seasonal watering proposals from the perspective of traditional custodians, with traditional knowledge.
Traditionally, Carran Carran (Thomson River) was an important meeting place and a place to camp. Today, the majority of Carran Carran is inaccessible to the Gunaikurnai making it difficult to meet and yarn along the river. Assessments for watering requirements of Carran Carran for the Gunaikurnai have been based on cultural indicators, including:
• the condition of the lower Latrobe wetlands (which Carran Carran helps supply)
• the condition and prevalence of plants and animals with cultural values and uses
• species known to be indicators of water quality, water regimes and Healthy Country.
GLaWAC are sharing with the West Gippsland CMA plant and animal species of cultural significance in and around the waterways of the Latrobe Valley, and the importance of specific watering decisions to support them.
Watering requirements to support cultural values and uses include:
• timing of environmental watering planned in partnership with GLaWAC to support a seasonal flow regime and wet and dry periods that embody Healthy Country
• maintaining freshwater supply to Latrobe estuary, Dowd Morass, Sale Common and Heart Morass, and associated freshwater habitats. The lower Latrobe wetlands are an important resource for the Gunaikurnai
• providing connectivity between reaches and onto floodplains to support dependent plants and animals with cultural values and uses of significance to the Gunaikurnai
• maintaining water quality to support the health of native plants and animals with cultural values and uses of significance to the Gunaikurnai.
Social, recreational and economic values and uses
In planning the potential watering actions in Table 2.3.1, West Gippsland CMA considered how environmental flows could support values and uses including:
• water-based recreation (such as kayaking, canoeing, fishing and swimming)
• riverside recreation and amenity (such as camping, hiking, duck hunting and birdwatching)
• community events and tourism (such as community education and events at the Heyfield wetlands, and visitation by locals and non-locals)
• socio-economic benefits (such as outdoor education companies).
If the timing or management of planned environmental flows may be modified to align with a community benefit, this is acknowledged in Table 2.3.1 with an icon.
Autumn, winter and spring freshes create ideal whitewater rafting conditions for kayakers and canoers in the Thomson River. The timing of environmental flows may be adjusted to optimise opportunities to support these recreation activities, where it does not compromise environmental outcomes. Recreational kayakers and outdoor companies can take advantage of the whitewater rafting conditions as a result of these freshes.
For example, the spring fresh, which aims to cue the migration of Australian grayling, may be delivered over the Melbourne Cup racing carnival weekend in November when many people take advantage of the Tuesday public holiday to spend a long weekend kayaking on the Thomson River.
Recreational users interested in this shared benefit can register on the West Gippsland CMA website to receive a notification of the upcoming watering event.
2.3 Thomson system
   Watering planned to support water sports activities (e.g. canoeing, kayaking, rowing, swimming, water skiing)
   Watering planned to support peaks in visitation (e.g. camping or other public activities on long weekends or school holidays)
 Victorian Environmental Water Holder | Seasonal Watering Plan 2020–21 | 61

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