Rob Harris provides an update on the alpine grazing proposal in the Weekly Times.

You will be pleased to know you have a full 10 days to provide input on more than 20 documents. The paperwork is available here.

Environment Minister Ryan Smith with mountain cattle graziers, Wonnangatta Valley. source: MCAV
Environment Minister Ryan Smith with mountain cattle graziers, Wonnangatta Valley. source: MCAV

Cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park could return after a full assessment of a proposed grazing trial

CATTLE could graze again in the Alpine National Park before winter after the Commonwealth agreed to a full assessment of a proposed trial.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt last week opened a 10-day consultation period.

Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victorian president Charlie Lovick said the decision for a “full federal environmental assessment” made sense.

“No doubt it’s a polarising issue and it’s going to continue to be, but this takes some of the politics out of it and now the worthiness of a trial can be accessed,” Mr Lovick said.

“The 10-day period and assessment means we could still get up there by late March and a short trial this year before returning next year could certainly be advantageous.”

The proposed three-year grazing trial of 60 cattle would take place in the remote Wonnangatta Valley.

Projects deemed by the Commonwealth likely to have a “significant impact” on nationally protected areas requires federal approval.

The process requires the State Government to publish assessments that “clearly articulates any impacts” and will also take into account expert scientific advice and public submissions.

A decision is expected by the end of next month.

Victorian Environment Minister Ryan Smith was asked to submit more information about the trial – particularly a survey of native flora – to the Commonwealth last month.

Grazing in the national park was banned by the Bracks government in 2005.

Mr Smith said the Coalition Government believed there was a “clear need to investigate”.

Past scientific studies, including one by the CSIRO, have ruled grazing did not reduce the risk of fire in Alpine areas.

The Victorian National Parks Association criticised plans to return cattle as “a back door way of getting cheap grazing for their mates” while the Australian Society of Native Orchids has written to the federal minister opposing the return of cattle.