The ongoing destruction of Cowley Beach caused by the inaction of authorities is a sad reminder of the lack of leadership in the CCRC regarding environmental issues. The following is correspondence by Russell Constable and Richard Piper who have been working with the Mandubarra mob fighting for a better deal for Cowley Beach.
On April 19th Russell wrote to the CCRC;
After further vandalism to Cowley Beach dune track bollards and fencing over the Easter holiday period I wish to express my sincere concern regarding Cassowary Coast Regional Council’s apparent tolerance and indifference with regards to this type of ongoing destructive and antisocial behaviour at Cowley Beach. Mandubarra Traditional owners have shown great concern for this part of their sea country and the way CCRC environmental officers are presently treating these fine aboriginal people can only be described as appalling bordering on discriminatory. At the very least Council actions display disrespect for these Traditional Owners and the custodial obligations Mandubarra people are working so hard to meet. Please note images below taken by Mandubarra Traditional owners of the abovementioned vandalism over the Easter Break. These images have been provided to Sgt Barry Anderson (the attending police officer).
Presently Mandubarra Traditional Owners are monitoring a Marine turtle nest just metres away from the damaged car parking area shown in the images above. I am highly concerned that council environmental staff have felt it appropriate to remove Mandubarra turtle monitoring signage with no consultation with Mandubarra Traditional Owners. This signage contained important contact details regarding their threatened species grant project at Cowley Beach and should not have been removed. Keep in mind that this turtle nest was used as a toilet by beach drivers over the Easter weekend and Mandubarra Traditional Owners had to clean the faeces from nest site. You will note the proximity of the nest to the car parking area in the first image below.
Please find attached (below) a 10 minute you tube presentation of images and soundtrack of a Mandubarra 4CA radio interview about Cowley Beach vandalism.
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I hope Council recipients will give the abovementioned matters and the video serious consideration and assume a more pro active co operative approach to protecting both the natural and council assets at Cowley Beach. I hope that CCRC will treat Mandubarra Traditional Owners with greater respect in the future. I am ashamed of Councils management record with regards to Cowley Beach and its Mandubarra aboriginal custodians and indeed that shame has motivated me to write to you about this matter Mr Brennan.
I would like to congratulate you on putting this together particularly the Youtube footage. I have also forwarded this to all those copied in on Russell's message and please delete it and advise me if you do not wish to be included in any future emails I send on this subject.
The recent vandalism of Council infrastructure and the environmental damage caused by vehicles driving outside of the track needs to be backed up by firm action by Council. The evidence and offences are there and I would like the matter to be taken to Court. As a resident and ratepayer here at Cowley Beach I am extremely disappointed that Council has been so scared to take any firm action against those identified by residents to have caused this damage. Media releases from Council requested information and on each occasion when such information has been provided nothing has been done by our Council.
I have remained silent about the track issues, since the CCRC pushed the track through the littoral rainforest recently. However I have been in a watching brief. I can no longer remain silent and believe the damage being done at Cowley Beach needs to be known to everyone in our community. It is nothing short of disgraceful to see what our environmental managers have done here. The siting of the track right on the crest of the dune makes me wonder who on earth decided that was a good idea. One more storm surge and the whole lot will wash away. This is completely aside from the question of why a road has been placed here when it is a known shorebird and turtle nesting area and an area previously identified by government as a "beach unsuitable for vehicle use on and adjacent to it".
I went to see DERM today and was advised that DERM has extinguished native title over R1399 and approved the use for a road. This was approved one month ago. I asked had the TO's been contacted and was advised they had not. I asked if the management plan had been prepared and was told it has been and that it should be available from Council. I will write again to Mr Brennan to request a copy.
I will be contacting the Mandubarra people myself to advise them on what I was advised by DERM this morning.
Vehicle stopped before turtles were killed this morning on Cowley Beach
From: Richard Piper [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, 22 April 2012 11:39 AM
To: Terry Brennan
Cc: Paul Devine; firstname.lastname@example.org; Julie Murphy; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Bill Horsford; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Cavicchiolo Mark; email@example.com
Subject: Vehicle stopped before turtles were killed this morning on Cowley Beach.
I write this in total disgust with what I saw happen at Cowley Beach this Sunday morning. I phoned through my complaint to Council's after hours number and have asked for an environmental officer to contact me but will not hold my breath. In the past I have contacted this service and never had any follow up.
I have just returned from being down at Cowley Beach where my family and I observed baby turtles hatching from their nest and scurrying down the beach and into the sea. The Mandubarra people have been monitoring the nest and knew from their work that this nest was due to hatch and invited us to attend. I have attached a few photos of these amazing creatures. It was an experience we shall all remember for the rest of our lives but badly spoilt by what happened during it all.
Ms Xxxxxxxxx was stopped this morning and challenged by me and others for driving on the beach. She was stopped before the area where the turtles were crossing and had we not been there undoubtedly would have driven over some of the hatchlings. Both she and her vehicle were photographed and some photos are attached. I will be happy to provide a legal statement if required to back up my allegations.
On the matter of liability, it is my thinking that should an accident occur between an ATV and a 4WD on the new track, Council could be found to be wholly or partially liable. There are no signs advising that ATVs are not permitted on this track. If you have any doubts about the conditional registration of ATV's then I suggest that advice should be sought from the Department of Transport.
The CBVAC wrongly suggested all vehicles should be registered. This is incorrect information I believe and leaves Council open for litigation in the event of someone being injured or killed in an accident on the track or beach.
I hope that Council will address this situation asap. There are probably more hatchlings to emerge from the nest and I believe the track should be closed for the remainder of the season until it is known that all the eggs in both know turtle nests south of the ramp have emerged. The nest was recently used as a toilet by persons unknown and with increased access to this area as a result of the track being made, this is having a negative impact on the environment here in general. Council officers should liaise with the Mandubarra people who are monitoring these nests.
Cheers and thanks