Living On The Edge
A healthy lake needs a healthy foreshore
Lake Macquarie has 174 km of foreshore which is a dynamic part of the landscape, forming the boundary between the lake and its catchment. A healthy foreshore has many values: providing habitat, stabilising soil, filtering stormwater, buffering waves and currents, and providing a pleasant place for living and recreation. However, these values are threatened by misuse and mismanagement. It is important we find a balance in our use of the lake’s foreshore so all its values can be protected, maintained and enjoyed.
Public or private?
Much of the lake’s foreshore is reserve, a public resource under public ownership, managed by Council or the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (National Parks) to ensure community access and environmental protection.
However about 40% is privately owned absolute water frontage. Owners of waterfront land – government, Council and private – all have an obligation to manage it in the best environmental interests of the lake and the community. There are general principles that apply to all land – public or private – allowing public access around the foreshore below the “deed high water mark” and discouraging structures that block access or intrude on the foreshore.
To mow or not to mow
Mown turf is a common sight around the edge of the lake. However, mowing all foreshore areas is not desirable. As well as mown recreation and access areas, the foreshore should include a diversity of native trees and understorey plants to enhance views and provide shoreline stabilisation, habitat and a buffer zone to filter pollutants.
Lake Macquarie City Council is reducing mowing on its reserves and now leaves an un-mown “filter strip” at least 1m wide along the lake foreshore and creek banks. Council, the Office of the Lake Macquarie & Catchment Coordinator, and Landcare groups around the City are re-establishing native vegetation in foreshore reserves while retaining some mown areas. to dump grass clippings in waterways or where they can be washed or blown into waterways. It is illegal to damage, including by mowing, native vegetation on waterfront reserves.