Funds boost fight against deadly weed in the Pilbara

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Noogoora Burr.
Camera IconNoogoora Burr.

The mission to tackle a poisonous weed that has taken over the De Grey River Rest Area and station has begun and will be helped by $270,000 in funding from the State Government’s Community Stewardship Grants.

Noogoora burr causes significant risk to Pilbara pastoral and conservation assets as it is toxic to animals, easily spread, and can destroy native vegetation.

Pilbara Mesquite Management Committee manager Jo Williams said the weed could kill a baby cow if eaten and could cause injury and infection if it got stuck in animal fur.

“It also has quite a strong allergen impact to humans, people who are affected by hayfever and skin irritations and highly susceptible to being impacted by Noogoora burr,” she said.

The infestation at De Grey was originally discovered by Main Roads in June and the rest area has been closed ever since.

Ms Williams said there were half a dozen Noogoora burr infestations in the Kimberley and the problem had likely spread from there.

“There is already a lot of science that exists on how to kill the burr from further north and over east, so we will be drawing on that for the on-ground management over the next 12 months,” she said.

“It will include but not be limited to manual removal, burning areas where the burr persists, a lot of surveillance and also access management such as Main Roads refining the size of the rest area.”

The deliverables of the program are due to be finalised by June, 2020, but that is dependent on rain, which is needed before the plant can germinate and be killed.

“The understanding we have of the plant comes from areas that aren’t the Pilbara, they have different climates and soil types, so realistically this will be an ongoing program for the better part of a decade,” Ms Wiliams said.

The De Grey Rest area will remain closed until Main Roads decides it is safe to reopen, with the hope that will be done in time for this year’s tourist season.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails