Plan to rescue Richmond River from decades of decline
PLANS to save the Richmond River from decades of environmental decline have been set in motion by a new community group aiming to develop a master plan for the river's recovery.
The Richmond River Rescue Action Group held its inaugural meeting last night at the Lismore City Hall and is holding a second meeting tonight at the Ballina Library.
Organiser Rod Bruem said more than 70 people joined the organisation in Lismore and he was hoping a similar number would come on board in Ballina.
Mr Bruem said there was already some excellent rehabilitation work being done along the Richmond, but what was lacking was a big picture strategy.
"We want to have set goals and and set a time frame of what we want to achieve in terms of river health," he said.
"As an interim group our job has really been to setup the structure to properly take this forward.
"But I think the message we got from the meeting was don't waste any more time, the problem is urgent we need to start getting results."
The main presenter on the night was Southern Cross University Associate Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, who outlined the litany of long-term problems plaguing the river system.
Various studies have indicated the Richmond is one the of most degraded river systems in NSW, and possibly one of the worst on the entire East Coast.
Mr Bruem said in a region with such a proud heritage of environmental conservation, it was a "shame to have a river system in such poor health".
And he said unless the Richmond was brought back from the brink, key sectors in the region from agriculture, to fishing, and tourism, would ultimately suffer.
"We can't let it keep going the way it's going."
The group is seeking nominations for its permanent board and once formed, it will work towards securing some initial funding to identify where "quick gains" can be achieved.
Mr Bruem said the group was "very apolitical" and was intended to bring all stakeholders together.
He noted that the Federal government donated $40 million to the Tweed in 1990s, a large part of which went towards improving drainage systems on cane farms, which helped significantly rehabilitate the Tweed River.
Tonight's meeting starts at 6pm in the Richmond River room at the Ballina library.
Facebook: Richmond Rivers Rescue Inc - Action Group