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The Cluttered Creek

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Creeks are a litmus test of how we care for the land. If the land is in good condition, the creeks will be happy and healthy. But what is a healthy creek? For one thing, a healthy creek is a messy creek.

I had a call a while back from a local landholder in Cherokee who wondered if Landcare could help clear the fallen timber out of her creek. A lot of trees had come down during Spring - she was concerned they were blocking the creek.

One of the many things I’ve learned, living alongside a creek, is how often trees fall down, or lose bits of themselves. They shed limbs at roughly the same rate as they grow, and they do it in spectacular fashion. My ears are tuned to it now – the anticipatory “crack …. Crack ….’ of timber getting ready to say goodbye to its tree, then the heavy thwump of a limb crashing down.

Going down last week to check a recent fall, I see that a limb has taken out the fence I share with my neighbour. I send him a pic with the good news, and we arrange a time to meet up to clear the debris. It’s a nuisance, but it’s back from the creek bed so it will be easy to get to clear and repair the fence.

But in the creek bed itself, fallen timber is part of the ecology of the creek. It holds water up, giving it time to soak in and drop some of its sand and silt, forming the pools for plants and river invertebrates to settle in.

This makes walking along the creek hard work, as I find my way over or under fallen trunks, or cross to the other side to avoid a tangle of smaller limbs.

So I had to tell my caller from Cherokee not only that the Landcare group doesn’t make house calls, but also that the mess of fallen trees is part of the life of the creek.

No need to organise a working bee: in time, the creek will take care of it.

Ross Colliver, Riddells Creek Landcare

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