The pandemic has brought many of us closer to nature as we’ve battled the claustrophobia of lockdowns and isolation by spending time walking, running or biking the local bush and river trails. We’ve taken up bird watching, insect counting, identifying frogs, nature journaling, nature art, photography and all sorts of nature based activities.

In using them, more people have begun to notice the work that goes on to keep the parks healthy and maintain them for community recreation. We’ve seen the possibilities for improvement, and found ways to get involved to make that happen.

During 2021 increasing local interest in stewardship of our waterways seeded a number of new Friends groups on the Murray and Kiewa rivers. With funding from the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat, Parklands are supporting these local volunteers to learn more about nature on their waterways, take practical actions to monitor, restore and improve them, and form effective community groups for their patches.

The Friends of the Kiewa, Friends of Felltimber Creek and Murray River Stewards cover localised sections of these waterways, with Murray River Stewards working on Gateway Island and the Victorian side of the Waterworks and Friends of the Kiewa interested in the Kiewa river from the Murray confluence through Killara up to Baranduda. A separate volunteer Steering Committee will guide the development of the Murray River Red Gum Trail along the Murray corridor in Victoria.

If you’d like to join these volunteers to nurture new life and connections along our waterways, please let us know. Whether you want to get outdoors and active as custodian of your favourite patch of the river or apply your creative marketing, planning and negotiating skills as Murray River Red Gum Trail Steering Committee, there are a range of opportunities for all.

Depending on your interests, you might help to restore the habitat for threatened species, monitor for turtles, frogs, platypus and squirrel gliders, remove weeds, plant native seedlings, or help Parklands to plan footbridges and connectivity along the waterways. You might join Parklands Rangers as they lead regular working bees, work in your patch by yourself or with other group members, or assist with some other aspect of being part of a community group, like organising a bbq or group get-togethers.

Albury Wodonga residents have always loved our waterways. The Murray and Kiewa rivers, local creeks and lagoons have provided hours of exploring, swimming, fishing, canoeing and dreaming throughout many childhoods. As adults, perhaps we return with more focused intentions; bird watching, researching water quality, ecology and threatened species, but still picnicking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, and introducing our own offspring to the best kept secrets of our town.

With climate change threatening the integrity of our waterways and the ecosystems they support, now is the time for us to step up and protect the arteries that have always made our home such a special place. Volunteer for your patch here.

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