River Conservation Society.
The River Conservation Society (R.C.S.) was founded in March 1990 in response to increasing public concern over the degradation of the riparian environment of the Avon River. Loss of natural vegetation and the erosion of embankments and surrounding areas from uncontrolled grazing of stock as well as threats from increasing water nutrient levels, frequent occurrence of algal blooms, rising salinity, rising acidity levels and a threatened biological ecology had given cause for concern. These threats highlighted the need for community and scientific awareness of the Avon River ecology.
The River Conservation Society pioneered a fencing program to assist landowners to fence along waterways and to repair old or damaged fences. During 1997 and 1999 the R.C.S. successfully obtained assistance from the then Water and Rivers Commission (now Department of Water) to excavate sand sediment encroaching into Gwambygine Pool due to erosion of the upper riverine and riparian zones. In 2011 sand sediment due to erosion was also removed from Katrine Pool downstream from Northam and Reserve Pool near Beverley, both Avon Basin towns.
Surveys previously conducted by the R.C.S. have included scientific biological surveys of Avon River pool systems such as Gwambygine Pool near York, research of the native turtle and native Rakali (water rat) populations and other aquatic fauna along the Avon River and hydrology surveys to monitor salinity and acidity levels on conservation reserves within the Avon Basin. Other surveys have included birds along the river foreshore and flora and fauna surveys of remnant bush reserves within the Shire of York.
The York Regional Herbarium of local flora was successfully established by the Society in 1993 and many flora specimens have been added to it over the years. The Herbarium is held at the R.C.S. & York Wildflower Society's Environmental Discovery Centre, Glebe Street York.
The River Conservation Society is proactive in seeking funding for a continuing program of flora and fauna surveys and revegetation projects. Nature Conservation Reserves cared for by the R.C.S. are currently being surveyed by members to ascertain their health and to decide what action needs to be taken to maintain high value reserves and to revive and restore the degraded ones. The R.C.S. is actively engaged with the local community to encourage interest, to educate, and to promote awareness of the threats faced by the Avon River and its riparian zones and remnant bushland reserves and roadsides. The R.C.S. also encourages a scientific understanding of the bioecology of riverine systems and is active in encouraging relationships with Government Departments, Universities and established scientific groups.
The River Conservation Society sees all river systems and all remnant bushland as having high ecological value. These areas are important for the conservation of flora and fauna, to provide wildlife habitat and corridors and to protect natural landforms.
Environmental Discovery Centre: due to the assistance received from the Shire of York and the Western Australian Labor Government's Small Grants Program, the R.C.S and the York Branch of the WA Wildflower Society are establishing this centre in York. It will be the first environmental discovery centre in the WA Wheatbelt. Work on the centre is well underway with river walks, talks and exhibitions being held, and a plan on an official opening in 2023.