Snowy River champion heads north

MANY on the Monaro may be unaware that a champion of the Snowy River has quietly left the region.

Long time advocate for the people of the Monaro, the former Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (SRCMA) general manager, Brett Miners has recently taken up the position of general manager with the Hunter Local Land Services (LLS).

Mr Miners has worked on the Monaro for 22 years and one of his legacies can be seen in the revitalised Snowy River.

The iconic river has been brought back to health under the patient and tireless guidance of Mr Miners.

It is now almost completely free of invasive willows and blackberries and has increased flow, to the delight of recreational river users such as canoeists and fishers.

Mr Miners started working on the Snowy River in 1994.

"I set up and ran the expert panel that assessed the health of the river and its environmental needs and recommended a return of 28 per cent of its original flow," Mr Miners said.

Another big outcome Mr Miners is justifiably proud of was leading the team that has rehabilitated the Snowy River in preparation for and return of environmental flows.

The once mighty Snowy River was reduced to a mere trickle - 1 per cent of its natural flow when it was dammed in 1972 as part of the Snowy Hydro-electric Scheme.

The reduced flow enabled willows and reeds to colonise and choke the river.

"It (rehabilitation) has involved willow and blackberry control along the full 186 kilometres of the river from the Jindabyne dam wall to the NSW - Victorian border," Mr Miners said.

A keen fisher, Mr Miners has also overseen the return of the breeding and stocking of 430,000 Australian Bass.

Mr Miners has long espoused the economic benefits of a healthy Snowy River, which an inquiry estimates can generate $20m of economic activity to the region.

Local agronomist and newly elected South East Local Land Services board member Stuart Burge has had a long and close working relationship with Mr Miners over many years.

"Most notably when he was the Landscape Manager for the Southern Rivers CMA, with responsibility for implementing the innovative Monaro Grassland Project for which I was the Consultant Agronomist," Mr Burge said.

"During that time I developed the greatest respect for Brett whom I found to have outstanding administrative skills but also a unique ability to address both the needs of the environment but also taking into account the productive needs of landholders.

"Brett had a real passion and love for the Monaro and Snowy environment but also a genuine empathy with the rural community as a consequence of having been raised on a large grazing property near Cooma."

"Brett loved this region and its people and did everything he could for it - a fact that was not fully appreciated by some who regarded him (sadly) more as an instrument of government."

Mr Miners said he was "also really proud of taking a lot of the conflict out of managing Monaro grasslands which are now considered critical for highly productive grazing industries and in a way that maintains and improves their ecological values."

"This has taken a comprehensive program of research, mapping and on-farm provision of incentives to farmers to change their grazing management through the Monaro Grassland program, including the Purple Patches program," he said.

Mr Miners started his new job on January 14 this year and will be joined in the Hunter by his wife Foss (Felicity) who is in the process of selling their house in Cooma.

Their four sons Liam, Asher, Ariel and Jack have grown up and left home and their daughter Rosie is in her final year of school in Hobart where she is studying ballet at the School of Performing Arts.

Born and bred on the Monaro, Mr Miners lived with his family (Brett's mother Rosaline and brothers Roger, Leon and Andrew) at Myalla where his father Ron managed the property.

Mr Miners went to Cooma Public School and Monaro High School.

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