Potential tree removal stirs outrage among Waikerie residents… STUMPED

Waikerie residents were strongly divided over an announcement that the athel pine trees in front of the Waikerie Lions Den at the town river front would be removed. PHOTO: Erin Williams

A LOCAL council’s decision to remove “pest” trees from a river-front location has divided the community and resulted in the work’s postponement in lieu of community consultation.
The District Council of Loxton Waikerie (DCLW) last week announced on its Facebook page its intention to remove several athel pine trees from the Waikerie river front, citing legislature stating the trees are classified as pests and must be controlled when within 100m of a water course.
The post stated:
“Council wishes to advise the community that the athel pines along Leonard Norman Drive at Waikerie will be removed next week (September 7, 2020).
“These trees were planted with good intent. However, they are prescribed as ‘pest plants’. While they would not have to be removed generally, they are specifically prohibited from being within 100m of a water course. As the athel pines are within 100m of the River Murray, they will need to be removed.
“This area will be replanted with more appropriate species of trees as part of the Riverfront Development.”
However, the announcement was met with backlash from the community and an open letter from the Waikerie and Districts’ Residents and Ratepayers Association (page 6 and 7) asking for community consultation prior to the trees’ removal.
The letter stated:
“The Association is alarmed at this decision as previous advice by the CEO was that no major changes to the eastern section of the Waikerie river front would happen due to community backlash at previous attempts. We are also concerned that the CEO has abandoned the DCLW community consultation policy. There has been no consultation.
“Due to the incorrect information for their removal being posted on the DLCW Facebook page as to why they are being removed and as council is now aware that the act does not require their removal, we hope that community consultation will be sought as indicated by Mr Beaton in his Facebook post.”
The tree removal has since been delayed while DCLW sets up a community consultation session, which will take place in the coming weeks.
DCLW was contacted for comment but failed to respond in time for print.

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