Future management of two Shellharbour reserves discussed

Ranger and staff positions at Bass Point reserve and Blackbutt forest have been restructured. Picture: ELIZA WINKLER

Ranger and staff positions at Bass Point reserve and Blackbutt forest have been restructured. Picture: ELIZA WINKLER

A REPORT on the impact of staff restructuring at Bass Point and Blackbutt reserves went before Shellharbour City Council at the last meeting.

In February and April this year, the council moved four permanent park rangers at the two areas into other areas of the council.

The report indicated the staff changes were a way to "improve the effective and efficient delivery of services" and any budget savings were allocated to Parks and Gardens teams.

From this point, surveillance would be conducted by council compliance officers, management would be conducted by Parks and Garden teams and cleaning went to City Service cleaners.

Councillor Peter Moran called for the report at the council meeting on July 1, in response to concerns about the restructure not meeting the needs of each reserve.

"There are issues with damage to protected species [at Bass Point] under the guise of road works and some significant tree damage," Cr Moran said.

"My fear is that with restructure we are losing the level of oversight and control over invasive [vegetation] species, in an area that is contiguous with Killalea state recreation area."

Cr Moran added that the restructure could also increase management costs to the council.

"With the old system, a small painting job would have been done by the allocated rangers as time allowed. However, I have been informed that now these painting jobs are required to be done by a member of the Parks and Gardens staff, and that person is traded as a painter and then paid appropriately."

A council staff member confirmed the former park rangers of Bass Point and Blackbutt reserves were still employed by the council and continue to work on various reserves in the region.

A council spokesperson said the new management structure was in line with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and other councils given the charge of national reserves and parks.

Councillor Kellie Marsh said she had seen an increase in "anti-social behaviour" including "burnt-out cars" at the Blackbutt reserve.

"This is why we have rangers there. The community are not happy that we no longer have them," she said.

The report was tabled and noted.

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