An environmental protection group advocating for the preservation of prehistoric footprints in the Kimberley has said significant sites may face potentially devastating impacts from a proposed new boat ramp at Entrance Point in Broome, Western Australia.
The Dinosaur Coast Management Group (DCMG), a Broome-based volunteer organisation that protects a number of dinosaur tracks in the Dampier Peninsular region, said it was frustrated by a recent decision to change the location of the boat ramp after it had worked with the local council and the WA Department of Transport for the past two years on how best to avoid impacting on the fossilised dinosaur tracks.
In a statement, DCMG Chairperson Micklo Corpus said it was now clear that the group's advice was being ignored.
“And to rub salt into the wound, we are the last to be informed and we're excluded from seeing the design details before they went public,” he said.
Mr Corpus also said that the concentration of tracks at Entrance Point forms part of a traditional Song Cycle and traces the journey of a Dreamtime creator-being called, Marala, the ‘Emu Man’.
“Moving on, we would like the opportunity to discuss how the proposed development can avoid impacting on important track-bearing reefs,” said Mr Corpus.
In 2018, a survey by Dr Steve Salisbury, a senior lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland, found an area in the immediate vicinity of Entrance Point that was of "high scientific significance".
“[The area is] one of the highest single concentrations of tracks made by carnivorous dinosaurs that we are aware of in the Broome SandstoneIt. Basically [it] looks like a dinosaur stompin’ ground,” Dr Salisbury said in his research.
The Broome Boating Facility has been on the local council's agenda since 2010 and is considered essential by the Shire President in ensuring the safety of residents and tourists using local waters.
The proposed boat ramp development at Entrance Point will include four ramp lanes and up to two 'finger-jetties'.
The concept for the proposed development has the support of the Shire of Broome and the WA Department of Transport.
In a statement, Shire President Harold Tracey said that Broome needed safer boat-launching facilities and that council had worked "tirelessly" with stakeholders to progress the proposal.
"This is a once in a generation project that will revolutionise the way Broome boaties take to the water,” he said.
Late last year, a decision was made to move the boat ramp to the new location at Entrance Point.
The council says the decision to move the location was to "minimise environmental and cultural impacts" and for numerous other reasons, including more parking for cars and trailers, and to access deeper waters to avoid the costs of dredging.
The Shire of Broome chief executive, Sam Mastrolembo, said the council would continue to work closely with the DCMG to ensure the design of the boat ramp does not impact on the prehistoric tracks.
A four-week community consultation period has begun with a number of information displays located around Broome.
Following the community consultation phase, the concept of the boat ramp may be refined before the final design and completion of a Business Case for the project.