Rheenedal Farmwatch Association Newsletter

UPDATE – 22 OCTOBER 2011 

Not too much to communicate the last few weeks so I have not cluttered your mailbox. 

OUR SECURITY 

There is nothing further to report relative to the armed robbery in our area save that nobody has been apprehended. It is however, suspected that the same gang/syndicate is responsible for other subsequent armed robberies in the greater Knysna area. 

I note a number of new gates along Rheenendal Road. Great idea. Keep unwanted visitors off your property.

RHEENENDAL ROAD CLEAN-UP 

Once again Deon van Zyl has been very busy. Deon your energy and drive are nothing short of amazing. I must echo his sentiments about individual landowners taking responsibility for the areas outside there own properties. Alton, well done on cleaning up your road verge. Much work still has to be done and the Conservancy will continue for a few hours each Tuesday with a “hacking party”. Please assist either by joining the party for just 2 hours or donate some labour for 2 hours each Tuesday. Maybe Tuesday is a bad day for you. If there is sufficient support we will organise a similar initiative at the weekend. 

Deon has asked that I publish the following report from him: 

Pleased to advise that we’ve had a good 4 days on the road this week.  No injuries, mishaps or damage, weather was (mostly) kind, and we’ve put a big dent into the work needed on Rheenendal Rd.  Unfortunately, heavy traffic on the road – generally tip-trucks thundering back and forth to the Eskom site – prevented us from working on ‘Death Bend’ in the dip near Carpe Diem / Mother Earthworm, but on the upside we did manage to work more intensively in the remaining area, and have pushed well beyond the 4m line and right back to the fences in quite a few places.  (I am still itching to have a go at the Death Bend section, and hope to put down a team for a day as soon as it is safe to do so)

On Day 1 I was delighted to discover that some of the fellows hired-in from Keurhoek were far more capable and qualified than I realised. Turns out that a few are ex-forestry, and that one in particular is a chainsaw wizard. With that talent available we were able to drop quite a few bigger Pines, Gums and Blackwoods into the road and to clear them in double-quick time.  (If anyone needs a small chainsaw team for piece work, drop me a mail.  Eldo is your man, scruffy fellow, but a real gem)

With the exception of the section mentioned, all heavy work – requiring large teams, chainsaws and vehicles – has been completed in the area more-or-less from Rheenendal village through to the beginning of the burnt zone. This does not mean that the completed section is necessarily fire-safe, nor has it been entirely cleared of alien veg or threatening trees, but it does mean that what remains can be dealt with on an ad-hoc basis by smaller hacking groups and individual landowners. Would dearly love to see landowners with road frontages ‘take ownership’ of their verges, and to do what they can to help.  A few hours of simple preventative work each month will save many days of hard labour later.  We all know that the road reserve is the responsibilty of Eden District, but that’s the futile  and frustrating world of ‘should be’.  Let’s rather deal with ‘what is’, its way more constructive.

Next up will be the re-spraying of herbicide in the burnt areas. Hub Sandberg has stepped up with a sprayrig again, and has volunteered John Stanwix too (thanks John!)  We are presently trying to source enough herbicide to spray on an industrial scale before the Flowering Gum and Blackwood gets too much of a headstart. Grant MacAlpine has pointed out that young Keurboom is also proliferating in this area, and there are colonies of Boekenhout coming through as well.  We’ll do our best to work around these pioneer indigenous outgrowths. 

Eskom has re-iterated its commitment to drop the giants in the burnt area, and we will re-engage with Eden for assistance here. This is a mammoth task that may necessitate the closure of Rheenendal Rd – between Phantom Pass and the kennels – for 2 to 3 days.  The Eskom supply to Buffelsbaai will have to be interrupted as well, so a fair amount of inconvenience and irritation is inevitable.  Given the amount of planning involved, this will probably only happen early in the new year.  This is a big mountain to be crossed, but please bear with us; once we’re over the hump it will be downhill all the way to the N2.

Finally, a huge thanks to everyone involved for their continued support. The cleanup project is being driven by the FPA and Conservancy, but clearly we are drawing in support from beyond our combined membership base, which is most encouraging. With each cleanup project, the amount of support we receive seems to widen, and so too our efficiency and effectiveness.

In particular, the appeal for cash assistance was suprisingly successful. Against our target of R1,800, just under R2,600 was raised.  This gave us 4+4+8+8=24 man-days, and allowed us to pay each man a bonus (R45-65) for pushing through the bad weather on Wednesday and for the final shove on Thursday which took us through the tea-break and into overtime in the afternoon. 

I hope that everyone who contributed in so many ways will be as pleased as I am with the outcome. 

Deon, I am sure everyone joins me in saying a great big Thank You. 

HELP REQUIRED

Four volunteer counsellors will be working with the Rheenendal accident survivors over the next 3 months or so.  One of them, Annette du Toit, who recently arrived in Knysna, is scheduled for sessions on Friday of each week, but needs asssistance with transport to and from the school. She needs to start at around 8:30-9:00am and will finish at around 2:00pm.  If anyone (or two) who regularly travels to and from Knysna on Fridays can help it would be greatly appreciated.  Pse drop me a mail deonvz@iafrica.com or call me on 044 388 4739.  (Annette has just completed her PhD and works in an unusual field.  You should not lack for conversation) 

Please assist if you can. 

Kind regards, 

Grant McAlpine (Chairman)

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