Arresting Floreat dog beach blow-outs

We have been awarded a Coastwest 2016-7 grant for $11,200 for the cost of matting materials to address the blowouts in Floreat dog beach dunes around path 16 (approx opposite Bent St) and between paths 13 and 14 (opposite Oban Rd) in City Beach.  The total project cost is budgeted for $26,500 with Town of Cambridge contributing plants, fencing and logistical support, whilst we provide volunteer labour.

The path 16 blowouts are at about the closest point between the ocean and West Coast Highway.  We plan to lay about 1600 m2 of coir matting behind fences up the dunes and then plant the strips of matting with tough plants like spinifex to arrest the blowouts and revegetate the dunes. It will take many years for the vegetation to grow back to do the job, but we need to start the process.  The blowouts are exacerbated by fitness enthusiasts running up the dunes and other beach users so signage and other steps are planned to try to limit such damage.  The following photos were taken at a visit by a reporter from the Western Suburbs Weekly to demonstrate what we plan to do with the planted area photo being from the work recently done on the sand pile behind the new shed at Floreat surf club.

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UPDATE 22 June 2017:

Our Coastwest-funded project for 2017, ‘Arresting Floreat dog beach blow-outs’, has got off to a good start.  On Tuesday 13 June, a truck from our supplier Stratagreen arrived carrying 44 rolls of coir matting to be laid in the blow-out areas, together with boxes of long steel ground staples.  The truck was met by Town of Cambridge depot staff who transported the rolls and boxes up the beach from outside our shed at Floreat Surf Club to the fenced-off areas at paths 14 and 16.

Soon afterwards two buses carrying 20 students from Leeming Senior High’s Education Support Class arrived and were briefed as to the matting task.  They set off up the beach and were given a demonstration of matting technique by our president Ivo Davies and Treasurer Lionel Johnston.  They then set to work unbundling the matting, rolling out the 20m lengths, cutting them to length and setting the ground staples, before hammering the staples into the sand.  They achieved coverage of the area between paths 13 and 14 which had been marked for matting – nearly one-third of the total project area.  They did a great job for us and we have written to the school to thank them for the work done by students, teachers and education assistants, and also many thanks to our Coastcare Coordinator, Adeline Morrissey, who provided much help and guidance on the day.

The next day, a team of 8 from Conservation Volunteers Australia arrived and repeated the process for the two areas north and south of path 16, completing the remaining two thirds of the project area.  Again a great effort from a small team and many thanks to CVA.  Much of this area is steep dunes and difficult to work in, but they persevered and got the job done.

Then on Sunday 18 June, a planting team of 31 members and volunteers arrived to help plant the matted areas – the best turnout we have had for a long time.  We planted slightly over 800 plants in what has turned out to be ideal conditions – the ground was still damp from the rain we had on 13 June, we had excellent weather last Sunday from the perspective of human comfort, and subsequently we recorded 39mm of rainfall during the week, which is what the plants needed to allow them to establish in the barren dunes.  It was hard work planting because the puttipukis are not suitable for planting spinifex through matting and we had to dig a hole for each plant with a trowel, trying to get it buried to at least half its height – often deeper than the hand holding the trowel.  Fertiliser pills were dropped into the holes before the plants were put in, whilst wetting agent was spread around after that.  It was also quite slow work compared to planting in more stable, established areas.  More than half the plants planted were spinifex longifolius, with a smaller number of spinifex hirsutus being planted at the ocean end of the strips.  Other species used to break the monoculture were scaevola crassifolia, oleria axillaris (coastal daisy bush), carbobrotus viriscens (pigface) and lepidosperma gladiata (sword sedge).

An inspection of the project areas on the beach on 22 June after an overnight storm and downpour shows that the matting all remains in place after quite strong winds, with the surf having advanced up the beach towards the fencing in front of the matted areas.  Some sand has blown over them but that will help keep the matting in place and the plants seem to have weathered the storm well.

We have more to do – we still have 1400 plants from our nursery order to put in and roughly equally areas of unplanted matting remaining south of path 16 and between paths 13 and 14.  So the plan is to do another two plantings in July to complete the task.

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