Levi Springs

Hopeful Signs for Fencing at Levi Springs

Levi Springs – approx. location

Readers of recent FOMS newsletters may recall the proposal to fence several mound springs at Levi Springs, on the Peake pastoral lease. This proposal originated as part of a major mound springs project (known as Desert Jewels) undertaken by the then state Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (now Department for Environment and Water). This project concluded before the Levi Springs fencing could be organised and FOMS has been trying to see this through to completion. The area proposed for protection is about 10 – 12ha, with approximately 2.3km of fencing.

Many of the steps needed to enable the fencing to proceed are now in place. The local Arabana people have approved the proposed fence alignment, as have the new pastoral lessees at the Peake – the Williams Cattle company. The Department for Environment and Water has organised the necessary fencing materials and has indicated that funding will be available for an Arabana fencing team to assist with fence erection. There has been some concern as to how the 200 or so required post-holes could be drilled but it now appears that funding approved by the SA Arid Lands NRM Board (see other item in this newsletter) will assist FOMS in hiring the equipment.

At the time of this newsletter it was unclear whether the on-ground fencing works will be completed in spring 2018 or autumn 2019.

FOMS acknowledges the ongoing support of the Department for Environment and Water – particularly Tony Magor, Manager, Parks and Co-management – in helping to progress this project.

Area to be fenced blue line shows original alignment, red shows agreed fence extension
One of the springs at Levi to be protected

Fencing of Levi Springs still under Discussion

Levi Springs – approx. location

The State Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has recently completed a three year project, known as Desert Jewels, looking at the management of mound springs and the FOMS has had some involvement. As part of that project, fencing of several springs at Levi was proposed. An initial proposal to fence all of the springs at Levi was not supported by the Arabana Aboriginal Corporation and a revised and reduced fence alignment was marked out on the ground during a visit in 2016 by FOMS and Arabana Elder Uncle Dean Stuart. The Arabana Aboriginal Corporation subsequently endorsed the revised alignment which is shown in red on the image below. The area proposed for fencing is around 10 – 12 ha.

Former lessees S Kidman and Co were fully supportive of the proposal but the on-ground works were not undertaken before the sale of the property to the Williams Cattle Company. In an effort to progress this matter, FOMS members Colin Harris, Bren Lay, Bruce Gotch and Simon Lewis met with Tony and Trevor Williams during the FOMS trip of August 2017.

During this on-site discussion it was clear that the springs were being heavily impacted by cattle. Tony and Trevor agreed that the current situation was in nobody’s best interests. They stressed that any decision about fencing would need to be made by their company and noted that a watering point would still be needed in the vicinity. In this respect, the group inspected the bore nearby, currently used by cattle, but in need of an upgrade. There was also some suggestion that the fencing could be extended to include the main spring in the bottom left of the image below, by following the alignment marked in blue on the image.

The meeting was positive and FOMS is confident of a good outcome. FOMS has sent further information to the Williams Cattle Company and we await their decision.

Proposed fencing of Levi Springs

Protective Fencing organised for Levi Springs

One of the springs at Levi to be protected in the proposed enclosure

As part of DEWNR’s Desert Jewels project, it is proposed that a number of springs at Levi Springs, on Peake Pastoral Lease, be fenced to provide protection from stock. In August 2015, a combined group from FOMS and DEWNR inspected Levi Springs and plotted a proposed fence alignment that would include all of the springs at Levi and most of the associated rock formations. In early 2016, DEWNR’s Sam Gitahi, then Project Officer for the Desert Jewels Project, re-visited Levi with representatives of the Arabana people to check the acceptability of the proposed fence alignment to the Arabana community.

Subsequently, the proposal was considered by the Directors’ Group of the Arabana Aboriginal Corporation, which decided not to support the proposed alignment. The Directors’ Group indicated that a modified fencing alignment, taking in the springs but not the main associated rock formations, might be acceptable.

Accordingly, in the July 2016 trip FOMS volunteers returned to Levi Springs to review the situation.  Arabana elder Dean Stuart accompanied the group. Along with Dean the FOMS group comprised Colin Harris, Elizabeth Lay, Bernice Cohen, Claire Bockner and Simon Lewis.

These ruins of a shepherd’s hut will also be included in the fenced area

An agreed alignment was readily identified, taking in several springs on the northern side of the main rock formations, as well as the ruins of the former shepherd’s hut nearby. Peake manager Jim Wheeler met the group at Levi Springs and foreshadowed no particular concerns from the Kidman perspective in relation to the fencing. Following the field inspection of July 2016, the Directors of the Arabana Aboriginal Corporation met in Marree on 20 August and endorsed the revised fence alignment. Pastoral lessees S. Kidman and Co have also given the go-ahead.

Materials for the originally proposed fence alignment have already been purchased by DEWNR and this Department and FOMS are now in discussion about arrangements for erection of the fence. This work will provide protection for an important area of springs and, as such, will be a significant milestone for the Desert Jewels project.