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Dry times for TSRs too

Local Land Services (LLS) continues to carefully manage the sustainability of the ‘long paddock’ (Travelling Stock Route network) as drought conditions extend right across New South Wales.

Just like farmers and graziers, LLS have a responsibility to protect the land they manage. Rangers regularly assess ground cover, stock water points and infrastructure.

Management practices continue to support the original purpose of the Travelling Stock Reserve (TSR) network established in the 1800s - to facilitate the movement of stock to markets. LLS are working with stock owners, drovers, and local government to find feed as conditions continue to deteriorate.

David Witherdin, Local Land Services Chief Executive Officer said that at this time no NSW TSRs are closed.

“Some regions have introduced ‘destination only’ conditions on walking stock to reduce soil erosion and damage to threatened native species, such as grasses currently protected through LLS’ management of the network.

“In many parts, continuing dry conditions have meant TSR forage and water is now limited. Ground cover has reached, or is fast approaching critical levels and we have a responsibility to manage and care for the land, just like every other landholder” he said.

“Our teams are doing their best with the increased demand for permits and almost half a million hectares of TSR to manage.

TSRs hold a significant place in Australia’s agricultural history and culture and LLS also recognises the other public benefits including biodiversity conservation, Aboriginal cultural heritage, and fodder relief for farmers not only during drought, but in floods and fire.

Mr Witherdin said decisions around TSR access were not made lightly and the organisation had carefully considered the feedback and needs of customers and stakeholders, as heard during the recent TSR Review. A full report will be available in due course.

“We understand the stress and pressure a lot of landholders are facing across the state, and are doing everything we can to ensure the TSR network remains healthy into the future, so it can continue to be a viable option in times of drought, flood or fire” Mr Witherdin said.

LLS supports properly managed grazing as a conservation tool, improving biodiversity and reducing fire hazards.

Ben Hawke is a grazier from Come By Chance and called on the LLS team for support last August as his family faced their fifth dry summer.

“Like many, we’d been managing with a business plan in place, but decided to move some stock onto the TSR as June sowing windows didn’t open up in the Walgett region.

“We’ve had a clear dialogue with Wayne the ranger and our drover right from the start. We always knew the feed would be limited and if it didn’t rain we needed to be prepared to choose a destination” he said.

Mr Hawke said LLS had played a vital role in providing options which allowed his family time to make decisions and plan their next move.

Stock owners wishing to access TSRs are encouraged to contact their local LLS team to talk about local permit options.

More drought information and support is available on the Drought Hub website – droughthub.nsw.gov.au.

ENDS

Media contact: Emelia Rixon, Local Land Services, 0417 238 413.

David Witherdin is available for interview.