COUNCIL is set to consult the community on plans for a nature-rich Wellington Point wetland reserve.
In last week’s general meeting, councillors voted to call for feedback on the benefits of low-key recreational use and the environmental values of Geoff Skinner Wetlands Reserve.
Council also endorsed a plan for the wetlands, which includes a walking path and possible future cycleway connections.
It comes after angst from some local boaties when the end of Bligh Street was closed to traffic for an 18-month trial, blocking the access point to Hilliards Creek for trailer boats.
Access is still available to launch canoes and kayaks.
A petition was started calling for the road to be reopened. It has received about 600 signatures.
“This is the only small trailer boat access on this historical waterway,” it stated.
“(The creek) has been regularly used by many anglers and crabbers.
“(Closing the road) has taken away our rights … to use this creek for recreational use unless you want to carry your boat 350 metres.”
Deputy mayor Julie Talty said advice from the Transport Department was that the area was unsuitable for use by motorised recreational boats.
“We know some people have been using the area to launch kayaks and some small motorised boats, but at the end of the day (TMR) do not consider this location as a boat ramp,” Cr Talty said.
Council would write to the state government to confirm that they had no plans to upgrade the end of Bligh Street to a designated boat ramp.
“This response, together with feedback from the community will then help council decide how the road is managed moving forward,” Cr Talty said.
Division 1 councillor Wendy Boglary said the closure of the road had improved the space for nature enthusiasts, walkers and cyclists.
“Since the trial road closure commenced in December 2018, there has also been a notable reduction in hooning and antisocial behaviour in the wetlands, which supports why council bought the land in the first place,” she said.
“With this information and the additional engagement approved by council, we will be able to decide the longer-term options for the road and wider conservation area.”
Council bought 4.5 hectares on Bligh Street with its environmental levy in 2018 to extend the wetlands.
Cr Boglary said since development of the Geoff Skinner Wetlands Concept Plan, council had undertaken weed and rubbish removal, as well as revegetation works.
“With these improvements, along with tree plantings by the Koala Action Group, locals have seen several bird species return,” Cr Boglary said.
“Many residents are now following our local koala population which frequents the area.
“The environmental significance of this area is evident with valuable saltpans, internationally recognised wetlands for migratory birds and habitat for koalas, along with other bird and animal species.
“Swamp wallabies are also regularly seen in the area.”
Renewed environmental interest in the wetlands had also helped local businesses.
“With the Wellington Point Village a short stroll from the area, the increase in visitations by bird watching enthusiasts and walkers has also been a local economic benefit,” Cr Boglary said.