The start of the Lake Okareka walkway and the parking area also got a really good tidy up with lots of pruning to allow mowers to get all of the grass when they mow. Thanks to local Acacia Road resident Gary O'Donnell for mowing the car park area at times during this year. The Millar Road DOC camp roadway and camping area also got a really good tidy up and prune back prior to the busy summer season. Potential fire wood was also removed. The Hall and toilet gardens have also been checked and weeded and trimmed where required.
Unfortunately some of the Landcare Okareka volunteers feel very let down by the lack of efficient and effective standards of service delivery coming from Rotorua Contracting (RotCon), now that it has become a CCO of Council. This is especially evident with the Lake Okareka Walkway and the mowing regime there. No mowing had been done on the walkway from since before Easter. There should have been a complete mow done before Queen's Birthday weekend. That didn't happen - and nor did any mowing get done before Labour Weekend! LO has an MOU with RDC and we expect that RDC will keep to their side of the agreement - which is at least one mow of the walkway before long weekends - Easter, Queen's birthday weekend, Labour Weekend, Christmas/New Year and Waitangi Day weekend, if there has been lots of rain and grass growth over the summer. LO volunteers certainly do their part - and then some! And then the standard of the mowing of the walkway that did get done, sure left a lot to be desired. Let's hope that the RotCon reserves mowing team will be more on to it when they come again - and hopefully that will be before Christmas 2016!
The other disappointment with service delivery is with RLC staff themselves - the walkway is still waiting for repairs to be made to the toilet roof, which has leaked from more or less day one, and repairs to the shade shelter roof, which was vandalised at some time over the winter. Likewise everyone is waiting for many of the flaxes to be removed from along the fenceline and track - they short out the electric fence on Playne's farm and also need trimming back from the walkway itself - the long leaves can trip people up. More of this flax removal was supposed to have been done by a Council contractor last summer. Trimming flax leaves back from the walkway is not a favourite task for volunteers, although we have done quite a lot of this over the years.
The pest animal trapping project (to protect the wetland birds) around the lake margins continues, with Landcare Okareka holding the permit from DOC to carry out this trapping. Over 700 rats have now been trapped since this project began just over 3 years ago. The LOCA Committee has approved the purchase of another 25 DOC 200 traps and boxes from the DOC camp fees. This takes the total number of trap and boxes to just over 100. A new trapping line to be managed by some LO volunteers in relation to the Millar Road wetland will be established soon. We also have some live cat traps which LOCA purchased that get deployed when wild cats are noticed in the area. Thank you to everyone who helps with this project - and the rewards are seeing the young birds hatching from the various wetland bird species that live around Lake Okareka.
Landcare Okareka will be carrying out a wetland inventory for the Millar Road wetland over the summer. There is already a vegetation list that was prepared by John Hobbs and Paul Cashmore from Rotorua Botanical Society for the Walking Track Assessment of Environmental Effects. This list may require a little updating. A volunteer has taken some photographs from a high vantage point, of the wetland area. We would also like to check on the state of play of the koaro native fish that were found in the wetland area a few years ago by NIWA, BOPRC and DOC scientists. Spotless crake have definitely been seen and heard in the wetland, and bittern have been heard "booming" in the wetland. All of this work needs to be done before LO volunteers can start on further weed and animal pest control work and maybe also some enrichment planting, in the wetland area, in future years.
Many thanks to everyone who has come to help with Landcare Okareka working bees throughout 2016 - your help is most appreciated. Thank you also to all of those volunteers who help with the pest animal trapping project. Thank you to the staff from DOC and BOPRC who have offered technical advice and support throughout the year.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy festive season. See you all back at LO Working Bees in 2017! Watch out for the sign boards!
Secretary, Landcare Okareka
Phone 362 8865 or email email@example.com