Conservationist promises to fight for frogs

To be listed: A growling grass frog in the Grampians National Park. Picture: David Paul, image supplied by Museum Victoria.

To be listed: A growling grass frog in the Grampians National Park. Picture: David Paul, image supplied by Museum Victoria.

A local conservationist says he will push through changes to force the City of Ballarat to make provisions for frog populations he says are threatened by pending roadworks in Delacombe.

Environmental consultant Ray Draper, who has been working to protect the growling grass frog in and around Ballarat for 45 years, said he would ensure the “growlers” who lived alongside Cherry Flat Road were included on the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas as of this week.

Terry Demeo, City of Ballarat director of infrastructure and environment, said there were no frogs alongside the road registered and the council would only work within a “road reserve” area, meaning no provisions were necessary.

“The City of Ballarat takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and always works to reduce environmental impacts of infrastructure projects and to adhere to all legislative and other requirements,” he said.

“The duplication works along Cherry Flat Road will extend for 500m south of the Glenelg Highway intersection and are within a defined road reserve.

“No Environmental Effects Statement is thus required and there are no habitats of the growling (grass) frog registered as located in the works area.”

However, Mr Draper said that response was mere “legalities”, which would change once the frogs were officially registered.

“They then come under the EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation) Act and then the council can’t touch anything without federal government approval,” he said.

“They’ll have to take into account the growlers are there and make sure there are no threats to their survival. If they are going to take their habitats away, they’ll have to replace them.”

Mr Draper said there were ponds and dams along the entire length of Cherry Flat Road where the frogs lived, which would be destroyed in the duplication works.

However, he said if council replaced those water bodies, the frogs would easily relocate – as the species would move within a 2km radius.

“If council, out further, make ponds and plant them out further with good habitat, then that will be fine,” he said.

“The growlers will use them, they’ll move across. They are terrestrial for most of the year, but once the breeding season starts next year (and they stay put at the one location) there will be nice beautiful dams for them.”

The Cherry Flat Road duplication is the first part of the Delacombe Town Centre project, due for completion by next December.