Boat launching approved at tip of Strawbridge Point

POINT LAUNCHING: New boat launching arrangements at Strawbridge Point allow boats to travel north from the access point to launch at the tip of the point, near the channel marker.
POINT LAUNCHING: New boat launching arrangements at Strawbridge Point allow boats to travel north from the access point to launch at the tip of the point, near the channel marker.

The Kangaroo Island Council has approved new boat launching arrangements at Strawbridge Point at Sapphiretown.

Boaters will now officially allowed to travel north from the access point to launch at the tip of the point, near the channel marker.

Councillors visited the beach launching area on May 31 to get a better idea of what had become a contentious issue, due to the concerns about the environmental impact of beach launching.

CEO Andrew Boardman read out a late email from the Sapphiretown Island Beach Residents Progress Association stating it was satisfied with the new arrangements.

SIRPA president Kate Wells confirmed the new arrangements were satisfactory.

“SIRPA is satisfied with the council’s decision on boat launching access at Strawbridge Point,” she said.

“Our goal has always been about protection of the tidal creek and the point itself. 

“With the appropriate signage and ‘natural’ barriers, we feel the boat launching community will be able to access the deeper water north of the point safely by driving on the designated compacted hard sand and around the western tip rather than over the point or sea grass area during low tide.”

Mayor Peter Clements said site visits should occur more often and helped councillors arrive at good decisions.

Councillors on Tuesday, July 10 voted to approve a recommendation that boat launching be allowed further out on the point into deeper water where less damage was caused to sea grasses.

Signage would be put in place directing boaters to the designated area and to prevent damage to sensitive areas.

Damage to sea grass was seen thanks to images shot by councillor Graeme Rickett’s aerial drone.

Images shot by councillor Graeme Rickett’s aerial drone showed damage to sea grass in front of the creek area.

Images shot by councillor Graeme Rickett’s aerial drone showed damage to sea grass in front of the creek area.

Aerial imagery by Cr Ricketts captured on the day of the site meeting provided an interesting perspective that some very recent damage has occurred from vehicles crossing the intertidal area.

“Containing the launching area (to the new arrangement) limits the area of living foreshore and intertidal area that would be affected by vehicles used for launching, trailers and watercraft impacts, being an improvement over the initial (June 2017 proposal), and is far more versatile for safe and convenient use throughout the tidal range,” the council report reads.

“The matter of the small ephemeral creek line entering the foreshore south of Strawbridge point, would also be subject to impacts from launch vehicles and trailers, and again taking anecdotal evidence from aerial imagery suggests no adverse impact has occurred as the movement of vehicles through that area occurs typically below the high tide mark (when access to the point is required for lower tidal ranges) and accordingly appears that the tidal foreshore area remains negligibly affected.

“Coastal habitats could be suggested to be at risk throughout this area between the access point to the foreshore and Strawbridge Point, though this area is tidal (to the extent of the coastal vegetation) and therefore unlikely to affect viable breeding/nesting area for shorebirds such as Hooded Plover.

“Such a high tide event was observed by Elected Members at the site meeting on May 31, it represents a small area of coast subject to traffic discouraging shorebird activity, which is not inconsistent with any other beach launching or access site, or other intensively used foreshore area.

“With regard to the proposed Beach Access and launching area to be designated, it is considered adequately acceptable to formalise the designated area over the foreshore area, which has been historically most frequently used.”

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