Coodanup resident on crusade to get 4WDs off precious wetlands

Some of the damage 4WDs have made to the wetland.
A short cut to Creery Island - not.
Some of the damage 4WDs have made to the wetland. A short cut to Creery Island - not.

THE City of Mandurah has called on the community to be responsible and for the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to take responsibility for managing conservation areas.

The call comes after Coodanup resident Angela Smith said she planned to become “a veritable pain in the arse to the council” until it stopped treating precious wetlands as wasteland.

Ms Smith is angry at the 4WDs she claims are destroying the wetlands at Coodanup by driving on them and often getting bogged.

“But people cannot do the right thing if they have no idea what the right thing is,’’ she said.

Ms Smith said the beach from the carpark at the western end of the Coodanup foreshore was supposed to be out of bounds to vehicles.

“It is a part of the internationally recognised Ramsar-listed wetlands to be preserved at all costs,’’ she said.

“But the council is letting it be trashed to the point where it will be of no benefit to anybody, least of all the shore-nesting birdlife.”

Ms Smith said all it would take was for the council to replace the limestone blocks, shifted years ago by individuals, with bigger ones that “even a couple of drunken blokes could not shift” and replace the “pathetic little treated pine logs” with decent bollards.

“I’m sick of ringing the council when I seeing idiots doing the wrong thing and ending up parked or bogged on the beach,’’ she said.

“All the council does is send a ranger down to chat to the offenders and absolutely nothing is done to stop it happening again.”

Recently, four crabbers drove along the beach for about 100 yards then waded out in less than knee-deep water, she said.

“They could easily have walked out from the car park but they drove onto the beach because they could,’’ she said.

According to Ms Smith, a family of adults with a baby were in a boat on the estuary last week when their battery went flat.

“But instead of dropping anchor, they let the boat drift towards the Coodanup foreshore shallows helped by a sea breeze and then pushed it further towards the shore until it was well and truly stranded on the outgoing tide.

“They then got the 4WD and trailer with the intention of driving onto the mudflats in the hope of towing the boat to shore and the driver got all of 20 metres before he realised that would not work – but not before he had made a hell of a mess of the shoreline.”

City chief executive Mark Newman said the council was appalled at damage caused by vehicles in the precious coastal area.

“We will endeavour to ensure access is not achieved to these areas through council-controlled reserves,’’ he said.

“Our rangers patrol known hot spots and respond to community concerns regarding off-road vehicle access as they arise with the aim of reducing damage and educating the public about areas where vehicles are prohibited.”

Mr Newman said council staff could not be everywhere at all times and encouraged the community to report suspicious damage or behaviour to 9550 3777.

He said the council would take action to reduce vehicle access to the Coodanup foreshore.

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