Council’s General Manager Michael Forsyth is to recommend a number of measures to councillors at the March Council meeting to prevent further damage to the vegetation on the Jones Beach foreshore dunes.
The Secretary of the Gerroa Environmental Protection Society, Howard H Jones, welcomes the move, but is disappointed it has taken so long for Council to come down hard on the issue.
“Parts of it have been completely poisoned,” he says. “We have made so many representations to Council, but there has been a lag in their response to the issue.”
Mr Forsyth disagrees that Council hasn’t been doing anything, saying, “We don’t support individuals taking things into their own hands and doing unauthorised work.
“I am very disappointed to think people have taken actions like this. It is very selfish and can have significant consequences on the dunes.
“Nobody should be doing any damage to any of our plantings on public property.”
He says Council has worked to help establish a landcare group for the beach and has been liaising with the Office of Environment & Heritage to apply for a grant for consultants to devise a plan of management for both Jones and Werri beaches.
“The funding will enable us to review the whole arrangement with the beach with regard to how the areas need to be managed going forward,” he says.
“The study and consequent plan will take into account the dynamics of the beach over time, increasing sea levels and the ongoing management of the dune system.”
He is quietly confident that the $130,000 grant will be awarded by April, and says it will take another six months for the plan to be devised.
Mr Jones welcomes the prospect of the study, but wants what is there to be protected in the interim.
“The dunes are the only thing between the ocean and the residents. It is fundamentally important that the dune vegetation does its job.”
The measures being recommended to councillors will include public education and rewards for reporting unauthorised work.
The local Landcare group have been active removing weeds and rubbish.