Monday, March 09, 2009

Road authority has Camerons Corner wetlands under threat

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According to the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, "The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) proposes to realign and widen two sections of Waterfall Way east of Bellingen at Marx Hill and Cameron’s Corner. The NSW Government has committed a total of $8.8million for construction of these two projects which will deliver major safety improvements."

(See photo of Camerons Corner)

It would be a shame if the RTA had its way on this issue. Among local residents there is widespread opposition to the project and the effect it will have on the wetlands there. The following comes from the website,

"Camerons Corner is approximately 9 km east of Bellingen township, situated between the Bellinger River to the north and the Kalang River to the south. The Waterfall Way, acknowledged by the NRMA to be the finest tourist drive in NSW, wraps around it to the north and east.

"Camerons Corner is the bend where visitors and locals often feel that they have 'arrived' as they sweep around its floodplain paperback forest. At the same time, a number of accidents, including one fatality a decade ago, have prompted the RTA to draw up a plan which will straighten the bend, making it safe to traverse at 80kph, but cutting significantly into the forest and wetland.

"Two endangered ecological communities listed on the Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995) are present at the site;

"Swamp Sclerophyll forest on coastal floodplain, and Freshwater Wetland on coastal floodplain. The area to be cleared also supports elements of other endangered ecological communities;

Lowland rainforest on floodplain, and Subtropical coastal floodplain forest.

"Most Bellingen Shire residents believe that this wetland and forest is so significant ecologically, socially, and as a tourism feature, that it must remain undisturbed, as evidenced by a petition with 950 signatures calling for greater community consultation from the RTA. A subsequent 802 signature petition calling for
the absolute protection of the wetland communities, as did a Dorrigo based petition with 292 signatures collected in just 2 weeks.

"This is not just a local issue: since only a tiny fraction of the once widespread floodplain forests remains, this area has great regional ecological significance. The fact that it adjoins a large area of forest, and thus provides a very diverse habitat for many species, increases its significance."

Today is the last day for submissions to the RTA

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