Coastal lakes in spotlight

Around table workshop collecting information about how the region’s coastal lakes are used was held recently, forming the first stage of a three-phase project.

The intention of the workshop was to identify opportunities to manage the South East coastal lakes differently.

Held at the Millicent War Memorial Civic and Arts Centre, more than 70 locals took the opportunity to talk about how they use and value the coastal lakes around the South East.

The coastal lakes of Lake Bonney SE at Millicent and Lake George at Beachport were a popular choice for discussion.

Other lakes identified for discussion included Lake Eliza, Lake St Clair, Lake Hawdon North and Mullins Swamp.

The Department for Environment and Water undertook the engagement and planning process, inviting the public to discuss and put forward ideas for future management of the various coastal lakes.

URPS director Nicole Halsey was engaged to facilitate the project on behalf of the department.

“This is an opportunity to have a conversation and ensure your voices are heard. We are here to record and represent your views as the process moves forward,” Ms Halsey said.

“We want to reiterate we are at the start of the process. Nothing has been decided.

“We are here to have a genuine, authentic conversation about what is special to you about the lakes, how you use them, what you value about them and what you see as the opportunities for future management.

“To be clear, it is in the very early stages. It’s about having this conversation to make sure your views are considered in the process. The lakes have a lot of different values and uses.”

Gathering information in the first phase has also included targeted conversations and insights.

Ms Halsey said it had included talks with Birds SA, Birds of the South East, Conservation and Hunting Alliance of South Australia, South East Field and Game Association, local government and recreational fishing groups.

An online workshop and online survey had also been held to gather information.

DEW team leader Kym Rumbelow provided attendees with further detail.

Mr Rumbelow said there were three stages with phase one being early engagement, followed by a report and review.

“Information gathering is the first phase of this project. Information and stakeholder input from phase one will be collected and collated for the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water’s consideration ahead of phase two,” Mr Rumbelow said.

“Phase two consultation will include public consultation on a proposal outlining management options for the coastal lakes.

“Details on this consultation phase will be made available after phase one is complete.”

Phase one is expected to be completed by June 30, with phase two expected to take place in the second half of 2022.

Mr Rumbelow said the key objectives of phase one had been to better understand how the lakes are currently used, understand how the lakes are valued, identify opportunities to better manage the lakes to maintain their unique and iconic natural features while providing access for their ongoing enjoyment.

“To help identify opportunities to manage the South East coastal lakes we want to hear from you about: how you currently use the lakes, what you value about the lakes, how you think the lakes could be managed in the future to ensure they can be used and enjoyed while maintaining and protecting their unique and iconic features,” he said.

“We are undertaking an engagement and planning process to identify opportunities to manage the lakes to ensure their unique features and values are protected and maintained into the future.

“This includes considering how to balance opportunities for people to enjoy the lakes through activities such as fishing, boating, hunting, camping, walking, birdwatching and windsurfing, with environmental and cultural heritage values.

“The lakes are valued country for First Nations people and have sites of cultural significance.

“The lakes provide important habitat for a range of waterbirds including a number of migratory species and species of national and state conservation significance.

“The lakes are becoming increasingly popular with tourists from both within South Australia and interstate.

“Beachport and Robe have increased in popularity being attractive beachside towns, further increasing visitation to the lakes.”

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