Community Input Being Sought on Future Estuary Management Plans

2 years ago | by

Woopi Lake entrance

Proposed actions to improve water and habitat quality as well as recreational opportunities for the Hearnes Lake, Darkum Creek, Woolgoolga Lake and Willis Creek Estuaries are now out for comment and feedback from interested locals.

“We’re at an exciting stage in the development of the final draft Woolgoolga Region Estuaries Coastal Management Program (CMP) and we’re now asking people to take a look at the management options for each of the estuaries and give us their thoughts. We’re also very open to further suggestions from local residents and the wider community,” said Sally Whitelaw, Council’s Team Leader Biodiversity Coastal and Flooding.

A survey on the proposed actions is now open on Council’s Have Your Say website and a Community Information Session will be held at the Woolgoolga Visitor Information Centre on 17 June from 4pm-7pm. The survey is open until 15 July 2021.

Potential management actions in the CMP include:

  • Environmental education and improvement programs for intensive horticulture and local industries;
  • improved stormwater management;
  • monitoring programs for water quality and riparian vegetation;
  • upgrades of recreational facilities;
  • consolidating and updating indigenous heritage; and
  • education programs for responsible water usage across the catchment.

“There is still a bit of a process to go to get a final draft CMP, which will ultimately need to be signed off by the NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment. But once the CMP is finalised we can apply for funding to put the management actions in place through the state government’s Coastal and Estuary Grant Program,” added Ms Whitelaw.

The estuaries in the northern beaches area are major assets for the Coffs Harbour region and important habitats in the life-cycle of the marine wildlife of the Solitary Islands Marine Park. They provide a stunning natural environment, a multitude of recreational opportunities and are a cornerstone of the coastal lifestyle that is so highly valued by the local community and visitors alike.

However, the estuaries are facing increasing pressures from land uses in the catchment, urban development and climate change.

Consultation on the CMP has been underway in stages since March 2020 and this latest round is Stage 3.

Stage 4 will develop the final CMP plan of action. It will state all of the actions that need to be implemented, including the responsibilities, timing and cost. The plan will be developed through the second half of 2021. The CMP document will be placed on public exhibition in early 2022 for community review and feedback. Stage 5 will then involve the ongoing implementing of the CMP actions over a 10-year period.

The CMP has been funded through a grant from the NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment and is being developed by Council in partnership with specialist coastal management consultants.

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