Environment Minister Kevin Minson today confirmed the National Parks and Nature Conservation Authority would be recommending the status of the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve be changed to a national park.
Mr Minson said the authority had advised him it would put the recommendations following a NPNCA meeting on Friday which discussed the management plan for the reserve.
The Minister said he was surprised and disappointed that the issue had apparently been leaked before the decision had been put to him formally and in its proper context.
"I realise this is an issue which has been of interest to many Western Australians and some others who have very strong views on the issue," he said.
"However, the authority's job is to consider the issues in a proper and balanced way and then make recommendations to me as the Minister.
"If I accept the recommendations, then the next step is to seek the approval of both Houses of Parliament which have the final say."
Mr Minson said the situation with Two Peoples Bay was that about 40,000 visitors a year enjoyed the recreational qualities of the area and had done so for many years.
"Legally the authority cannot produce a plan that manages this number of people and still call the area a nature reserve," he said.
"This point has led to much of the misunderstanding among people who have put submissions asking for the area to remain a nature reserve.
"The real issue is that the Department of Conservation and Land Management have managed the reserve as though it is a national park because of the high number of visitors.
"This has enabled the area to be managed for its very high conservation values and its popularity as a tourism and recreation destination.
"The increase in the population of the rare noisy scrub-bird and more recently the rediscovery of Gilbert's potoroo are two examples of how this style of management has worked so successfully."
Mr Minson was critical of a media report that the area's status was an example of CALM `getting its own way'.
"The future status of the reserve will be up to the Parliament," he said.
"I cannot see how anyone can seriously object to the designation of national park when it is considered this is the most widely recognised conservation status in the world."
Mr Minson said the authority was an independent body and members made up their own minds after considering the weight of evidence put before it.
The management plan was being finalised and would be submitted to the Minister in the next few weeks.
Media contact: Caroline Lacy (09) 222 9595 - 321 2222