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People power restores Lewis Island


The Narooma community proved that passion could move mountains last Saturday when more than 50 residents showed up for a working bee at Lewis Island, north-west of Narooma bridge.


Above: Volunteers in action at Narooma’s Lewis Island last Saturday.

The enthusiasm was infectious as volunteers, many of whom had grown up playing there, arrived early with wheelbarrows and tools to restore an 80-metre length of eroded bank on the sand island.

Three generations were represented with retired tradies getting back on the tools and toddlers making good use of their buckets and spades to help move sand and plant seedlings.

Eurobodalla Council’s Natural Resource Supervisor Heidi Thomson said that within four hours, the volunteers had the eroded bank was looking much stronger with coir fibre logs to arm it against wave wash, a renewed bank of sand and 300 seedlings in place.

“The aim of the coir logs is to reduce wave impacts, while the gentler slope of the new bank will be more stable and allow the native plants to do their stabilising work,” Ms Thomson said.

“Logistically it’s tough to undertake erosion control on an island. In this case, there’s only a narrow footbridge for access, so we had to be clever about it. We couldn’t just put a machine to work.”

Proving they were more useful than any machine, the volunteers installed the logs, shifted sand using wheelbarrows in a conveyer belt-style operation, and planted out native seedlings.

Ms Thomson said everything went to plan. “The tide was right, the weather perfect and we even had enough sausages to feed everyone!”

Narooma resident Chris Young instigated the ‘Save Lewis Island’ group earlier this year when he called a community meeting to rally support for stopping the island receding. He has since worked with Council to develop the project.

The project materials were funded through South East Local Land Services. Ms Thomson said the work will continue to be monitored and adjustments made to ensure the bank stays where it is for now.

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