Arabana Ranger Program initiated by Federal Government

Attendees at the Port Augusta meeting. Rear (L to R): Colin Harris, Bruce Gotch (both FOMS), Cherie Gerlach, Sarah Stevens (SA Arid Lands NRM Board staff), Travis Gotch, Tony Magor (both National Parks & Widlife, DEW), Arabana Ranger Marshall Stuart, Arabana Head Ranger Micheal Stuart, Simon Lewis (FOMS), Arabana Ranger Garth Dodd, Paul Tanner. Seated at front: Arabana Rangers Braden Allen and Aamish Warren.

Some good news – an Arabana Ranger Program has been initiated through funding support from the Federal Government. Five Arabana Rangers have been appointed, including Head Arabana Ranger Micheal Stuart – son of Uncle Dean (see above article). General support and coordination is provided through Conservation Management Director Alistair Dermer, who is based interstate. The Ranger group is operating out of Port Augusta and, at this stage, has funding to June 30, 2021.

The Arabana Ranger team and FOMS personnel have wasted no time in becoming acquainted, with a joint meeting held at Port Augusta on 22 January 2020 – FOMS representatives being Colin Harris, Bruce Gotch and Simon Lewis. Also attending were Tony Magor, National Parks and Wildlife Manager, Flinders and Outback, and Travis Gotch, newly appointed District Ranger, Outback. Arid Lands NRM Board staff Sarah Stevens and Cherie Gerlach also joined the group for a short time.

The meeting highlighted that the Arabana Ranger Program and FOMS have a number of objectives in common. Micheal Stuart noted that priority areas for the Program are protecting and monitoring country, building and maintaining relationships and getting Arabana people on to country. FOMS representatives noted that FOMS has a particular interest in maintaining protective fencing around a number of important mound springs on pastoral lease land – seven fenced by the state Environment agency in the 1980s and Levi Springs, fenced by FOMS volunteers in 2019. Vegetation monitoring is also a priority at these springs.

It was agreed that the Arabana Rangers could take on a significant role with this fence maintenance and vegetation monitoring. As a next step, FOMS representatives and the Arabana Rangers will have a joint inspection of these sites – currently scheduled for May 2020.

This is a welcome initiative and FOMS looks forward to linking closely with the Arabana Ranger Program. It is to be hoped that funding for the Program will be extended well beyond June 2021.