Daniel Mercer is reporting in the West Australian newspaper, December 23, 2011, page, 14 that the Environment Minister Bill Marmion has rejected the plan for a 45 km walk trail through the Fitzgerald River National Park Biosphere. This idea goes the way of the road idea that the Premier Colin Barnett put up previously.
According to Daniel Mercer Environment Minister Bill Marmion has upheld a recommendation by the Environmental Protection Authority that the trail posed an unacceptable risk of spreading dieback. Mr Marmion said the original proposal could have compromised the quality of biodiversity in the park, which is considered one of the worldâ€™s most important ecological areas. â€œFitzgerald River National Park is extremely significant for WA,â€ he said. â€œNearly 20 per cent of WAâ€™s flora species are found within the national park â€” many of which occur only within the park.â€
Instead, Mr Marmion said the proponent, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), could construct two â€œshort distanceâ€ tracks on either side of the park. DEC will build the trails with camping facilities and trail heads along the southern coast from Point Ann to Fitzgerald Inlet and from Hamersley Inlet to Quoin Head.
As someone who has walked the Park in its more undeveloped state I welcome the decision. We need to leave some areas undeveloped but open for the more adventurous to enjoy. After all it can still be walked without a Bibbulmun Track style walk trail! More photos of the Perth Bushwalkers Club walk of the Park in 2006 can be found in the gallery here.
The Minister’s press release in full is quoted below:
Environment Minister Bill Marmion has rejected plans to build a full walk trail through the wilderness management zone in Fitzgerald River National Park. Instead, he has approved the construction of two short-distance walk trails on either side of the wilderness area to allow users to enjoy one of Australiaâ€™s biggest and most botanically significant national parks.
â€œA coastal walk trail across the park was proposed as part of a package of improvements, but this was subject to environmental approvals being met,â€ Mr Marmion said.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) assessed the proposal by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to build the walk trail but decided the proposal could not meet the EPAâ€™s environmental objectives for biodiversity.
Following five appeals against the EPAâ€™s report, the Minister sought further advice from the Office of the EPA and upheld the authorityâ€™s recommendation that approval should only be given for modified trails that did not traverse the parkâ€™s wilderness zone.
DEC will build the trails with camping facilities and trail heads along the southern coast from Point Ann to Fitzgerald Inlet and from Hamersley Inlet to Quoin Head. To protect native flora and fauna from Phytophtora dieback, the Minister has set down strict conditions for the projectâ€™s implementation.
These include preparing a Dieback Risk Assessment, Dieback Management Plan and a Dieback Response Plan to protect uninfected areas of the Fitzgerald River National Park.
â€œI have approved amendments to the Fitzgerald River National Park Management Plan 1991-2001 consistent with this proposal. Details will be available on the DEC website once the amendments have been published in the Government Gazette,â€ Mr Marmion said.
â€œFitzgerald River National Park is extremely significant for Western Australia. Nearly 20 per cent of WAâ€™s flora species are found within the national park – many of which occur only within the park.â€
- Fitzgerald River National Park is the core of an internationally recognised Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program and one of only two biosphere reserves in WA
- The State Government is investing an extra $1million over four years, which started in 2011-12, to further protect the Fitzgerald River National Park against dieback