A privately-managed pine plantation at Glencoe will be harvested and never replanted if Wattle Range Council has its way. Ward councillor Dale Price estimates the trees in question are up to 30 years old and cover an area of 40-50 acres (16-20 hectares).
Cr Price successfully submitted a notice of motion to the May monthly council meeting in Millicent about the fate of the trees which are owned by multi-national firm OneFortyOne Plantations.
He said the removal of the pine trees would benefit Lake Leake. “The lake is fed by run-off,” Cr Price said. “With the pine plantations around the rim I believe there is zero run-off. “As the lake is an increasingly popular tourism destination, I think it is important to protect the water level, the flora and fauna that exist in and around it.”
Council will now write to OneFortyOne Plantations, Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) and Department for Environment and Water requesting the early harvesting of trees and cessation of planting on the rim of Lake Leake to preserve and ideally increase the water level in it.
Cr Price’s motion was seconded by deputy mayor Cr Moira Neagle and carried in a unanimous vote. In his comments in various public forums, Cr Price stressed the value of tourist attractions such as Lake Leake for flow-on economic activity.
According to Cr Price, the current low water levels and presence of weeds in Lake Leake prevented aquatic activities such as speed boat racing. In his opinion, the lake was up to 20m deeper in years gone by. Cr Price said the number of tourists visiting Lake Leake and the historic Glencoe woolshed had increased and this was due to the increase in domestic tourism due to the COVID pandemic.
The councillor said extra water in Lake Leake would provide an additional recreational facility for locals and improve their well-being. He said he regarded OneFortyOne Plantations as a good corporate citizen and hoped the company would look with favour on the council request.
During the brief discussion on his motion, Cr Kevin McGrath said he was aware of reports that Lake Leake had overflowed in the opening decades of the 20th century. Ward councillor Deb Agnew queried whether the nearby Lake Edward was fed by a spring but Cr Price said he was unable to say.