Welcome Colin Elton to the MEHG Hall of Fame 2023!
Founder of Friends of Rivers, Peel (FoR Peel), Colin has been a resident of the Shire of Murray since the year 2000, and his success as a volunteer has been demonstrated by his collaborative approach to leadership, which has resulted in far-reaching benefits for the environment and community.
Colin’s leadership and contributions have resulted in the reduction of motorised vessel speed limits; extensive revegetation, habitat restoration and riverbank stabilisation projects; modern sewerage system implementation and nutrient input reduction from river catchments; and removing more than 30 tonnes of rubbish from our region’s waterways over the past 20 years.
In January 2002 Colin founded and was the inaugural Chairperson of Friends of Rivers Peel; their objective being to balance the legitimate use of the Peel river systems for leisure and livelihood while protecting the life-blood of the Peel Region from pollution and erosion.
For 20 consecutive years Colin has organised a total of approximately 800 volunteers and has participated with them on Clean Up Australia Day to collect in excess of 30 tonnes of rubbish (an average of at least 1.8 tonnes every year) from the Murray and Serpentine Rivers and environs. This includes arranging barges, boats, canoes, land vehicles and people on foot.
In 2003 Colin’s leadership was instrumental in changing the motorised vessel speed limits on the Murray and Serpentine Rivers from 8 to 5 knots; reducing the level of damage caused to river banks by boat wash, and increasing safety levels for recreational users and wildlife. A petition of 1800 signatures was obtained by Colin in support of these speed limit changes. Subsequently a 5 knot limit was introduced on the Swan and Canning Rivers.
Colin has been a champion for the revegetation and stabilisation of river banks and regeneration of riparian zones. In 2009 and 2010, FoR Peel led by Colin, with the assistance of Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC) and other volunteers, carried out plantings of 10,000 native trees, shrubs, sedges and rushes at Buchannan’s Drain on Patterson’s Farm.
He also applied for grant funding so that FoR Peel could install fencing and revegetate Buchannan’s Drain on Jim Jam Farm and, with FoR Peel, 300 casuarinas were purchased and planted on Meeyip Culleenup Islands with Shire of Murray and PHCC representatives.
Colin gained funding for the group from the National Heritage Trust and Mitre 10 for riverbank and foreshore restoration projects at North Yunderup, South Yunderup and Pinjarra, where Pinjarra High School students assisted to plant 1600 seedlings.
In partnership with PHCC, Colin organised barge transport and rallied volunteers to install 500 metres of wash boards and plant 3,000+ sedges to stabilise the Murray River Delta Islands and river banks.
Colin initiated and helped implement a water sampling programme from 2008-2014 on the local waterways that feed into the Murray River, providing results to the Department of Water and the Shire of Murray. Notably, there is currently major focus on nutrient reduction, measurement and control, in the catchment areas of the Serpentine and Murray Rivers by the Shire and PHCC.
Colin led the lobbying of state and local governments to enforce connection to reticulated sewerage when available to properties close to the local waterways, and for the provision of reticulated sewerage for the residents of Murray Bend.
In 2016, due to Colin’s leadership in organising the FoR Peel’s Clean Up Australia Day for the Murray and Serpentine Rivers and environs, his model of excellence became the basis for the annual Clean Up Month (formerly named Clean Up the Peel Waterways) which now involves 16-18 individual groups which annually remove tonnes of rubbish throughout the Peel-Harvey Estuary system and associated areas.
Friends of Rivers, Peel joined Mandurah Environment & Heritage Group in 2017. The MEHG committee was blown away by Colin’s outstanding collaborative leadership style, and how many positive contributions and benefits he has achieved for the community.
Colin has made major contributions to the Peel Inlet Advisory Council, Mandurah-Murray Vietnam Veterans Group, Ravenswood Sanctuary Model Boat Club, South Yunderup Residents & Ratepayers Association, Yunderup Sport and Recreation Club, Variety WA and Parkerville Children’s Home. He has collaborated with the Shire of Murray, City of Mandurah and Peel Harvey Catchment Council, and Department of Transport to achieve so many fantastic outcomes for the environment in our region.
Thank you Colin for your foresight, passion and hard work over the years, and congratulations on your many environmental achievements and for being inaugurated into MEHG’s Hall of Fame.
Thank you to Barry Small (right) for providing all this information