Environment and Science Minister Judy Edwards has called for public comment on the future conservation of the spectacular landforms of the Kennedy Range north of Gascoyne Junction.
Dr Edwards today said it was important that people provided input on the draft management plan for Kennedy Range National Park, released today, as the park contained significant environmental and geological assets.
“Kennedy Range, a huge mesa pushed up from an ancient seabed millions of years ago, is an eroded plateau on the rim of the Gascoyne River catchment, about 150km east of Carnarvon,” she said.
“The mesa covers an area 75 km long by 25 km wide and offers spectacular scenery of gorges and precipitous faces, with a vast plateau of ancient dunefields on top of the range.
“The area still retains a wilderness feeling and is becoming an increasingly popular tourism site for international, national and intrastate visitors.
“The Department of Conservation and Land Management is seeking comment on the draft management plan from the community as it will guide the park’s management for the next 10 years.”
Dr Edwards said the 141,660ha Kennedy Range National Park was gazetted an A class reserve in 1993 and vested in the Conservation Commission of WA.
In 2001 and 2002, CALM bought 177,377ha of adjoining land for additions to the park, including Mooka pastoral lease and parts of seven other surrounding leases. In the draft plan, these areas of unallocated Crown land will be managed as national park while the process to add them to the park continues.
“The Kennedy Range is an important geological formation that rises about 100 m above the surrounding alluvial plains,” the Minister said.
“The acquisition of these surrounding lands has enabled CALM to create a buffer around this biodiversity-rich range and has added significantly to the under-represented ecosystems of the Wooramel subregion of the Carnarvon Basin biogeographic area.
“The park now covers an area that includes important spinifex dunefields, regionally- significant springs and soaks, breakaway country, and refuge for geographically isolated animals and plants, providing an array of landscapes of scenic beauty.
“A variety of recreation opportunities also exists for visitors but these must be managed in a way that presents minimal risks to visitors and the environment.”
The area is significant to Aboriginal Traditional Owners. Protection of the biological and cultural values within the park will be improved through the life of the plan.
Dr Edwards said the key issues for managing the park were feral goat control, fire ecology, weeds, recreation opportunities and access.
“The draft plan details strategies to deal with these issues including the development and implementation of a goat control strategy and the control and monitoring of exotic plants such as buffel grass and date palms,” she said.
“Current visitation to the park is estimated at 4,000 to 6,000 visits a year and this is expected to increase substantially as road access to Gascoyne Junction is improved. The draft plan proposes a number of recreation opportunities catering for both camping and day-use visits.
“As part of this, there are plans to introduce a registration/permit system for people to continue to traverse the ‘top’ of the range via a four-wheel-drive, providing a remote four-wheel-driving experience.
“Though in the initial period of the plan the numbers of visitors to the ‘top’ of the range will not be limited, the permit system will help understand visitor use and assist in planning for future recreation and tourism opportunities.“
Copies of the draft plan can be obtained from CALM's offices in Perth, Carnarvon and Geraldton. Copies are also available from the department's website NatureBase, at http://www.naturebase.net/haveyoursay
Minister's office: 9220 5050