Something strange is going on at this reserve.
It has come out in a rash of yellow spots.
They are quite inconspicuous, until you notice the first few, then you realise just how very many there are. I didn't count them, but there seem to be hundreds!
The trail of spots begins beside the entrance to the reserve in Community Court, and follows the gravel path (carefully designed to have a low environmental impact) which runs through it to Polzin Road.
Spots are also to be found to some depth into the reserve, along its O’Brien Road edge.
It is claimed that the Toowoomba Regional Council, plans to build a 3 metre wide concrete path, to wind through the bush. While 3m of concrete could hardly be called an insignificant gash in such a small conservation area, it doesn’t seem to explain why quite so very many trees are marked with spots of fluorescent yellow paint. At one point, the marked strip is at least 15 metres wide.
The new Highfields State High School is to be built in Polzin road opposite the Reserve, and the argument seems to be that such a path would provide safer access for students to the shopping centre. It’s hard to see why it would be a safer option than a path restricted to the road reserve beside O’Brien Road.
Even a 3m wide path through such a small reserve would have a huge impact, both in terms of vegetation removed, and in the edge effect.
I feel some sadness about the Bailey's cypress plants I mentioned in my last blog. They were planted in this reserve in the belief that this would be a safe place for these valuable rare native plants to grow and mature.
The largest of them, still far from adulthood, is on the O'Brien's Road edge of the reserve, surrounded by yellow spots.
The plans have been made by the Engineering section of Transport and Drainage Department of the Toowoomba Regional Council. Apparently they have not consulted with any of their colleagues in TRC’s Parks and Environment Department or any other departments. This seems a surprising omission, considering that the area is designated on the recently developed Highfields, Meringandan & Meringandan West Local Plan as a Biodiversity AES (Area of Ecological Significance).
For further details, and a link to the online petition, see: https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/mayor-paul-antonio-preserve-charles-motee-rogers-bushland-reserve-at-highfields
If you would like to sign, please note that deadline is Monday (20 January).
(Find the Meringandan & Meringandan West Local Plan plan at http://www.toowoombarc.qld.gov.au/planning-and-building/planning-scheme
Scroll down the page and click on “Local plan - Highfields, Meringandan & Meringandan West final report”)
Using CTRL+ gives you a close-up view of the area concerned.