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Safety warning around dam as alien clearing starts

Alien vegetation clearing above the Garden Route Dam is expected to commence next week (11 January 2020) and public access to certain areas will be restricted for safety reasons.

George Acting Municipal Manager Michele Gratz said the long-awaited project was funded by the Cape Agency for Sustainable Integrated Development in Rural Areas (Casidra) and would see the clearing of alien vegetation such as blue gum, pine and wattle around the edges above the dam and upstream rivers. “While essentially aimed at improving water flow and run-off into the catchment area of the dam for water security, the reduction of biofuel also decreases fire risk for nearby residences and plantations,” said Dr Gratz.

“However, while the contractors are on site, we appeal to the public to stay clear of areas that are marked as restricted due to the presence of heavy vehicles and dangerous equipment including woodchippers, chain saws and cutters – not to mention falling trees, snakes and other wildlife disturbed by the temporary commotion.”

The contractor should be on site next week and clearing is expected to take place until February or March, depending on circumstances. Public access to the dam will be restricted depending on where the teams are working and on the kind of equipment and vehicles they are using. Access control will be applied at the main gate to the dam, the dam wall or access roads, whichever is most appropriate. Signage will be applied accordingly.

The first section to be cleared will be the upper edge of the dam, from the dam wall and up the Swart River towards Pepsi Pools and up to the first service road above the dam. As this is a popular cycling and hiking area, an urgent appeal is made to outdoor enthusiasts to stay clear of all plantation and forest terrain, tracks and roads in this vicinity. “While it may be temporarily inconvenient for regular users of the terrain to find alternative outdoor space for a while, the long-term benefits of less invasive species in their natural playground will reap its own rewards.

“While signage will be placed at as many points of access as possible, the area is not fenced, and the municipality will rely on citizens to help spread the word and to warn and discourage people from accessing the area. Ongoing messaging on several municipal communication channels will also take place.

“The municipality thanks residents and visitors for their support and patience during this project. It will be a temporary inconvenience but will provide longer term water security in a changing climatic environment,” said Dr Gratz.

The area in purple will be cleared of alien vegetation.
(Note the image is for mapping purposes only and not a representation of the current vegetation in the clearing area).