The Discovery Coast is renowned for its natural and relatively untouched beauty. It’s one of the few stretches of Queensland coast that remains rugged, undeveloped and laid back. Protecting the environment and managing incursion from people and pests is a delicate balancing act for both local residents and authorities.
Each holiday season, Agnes Water and the Town of 1770 triple in size. The local economy is built on tourism. During the severe drought of 1997 to 2009, a desalination plant was commissioned for the Discovery Coast to purify seawater using reverse osmosis technology. The then Miriam Vale Shire Council argued the undergound aquifer was running out of water and could not sustain predicted population growth. There were community protests, council amalgamations, funding disputes and construction delays which stretched the project out to 2013, when weather patterns had changed to La Nina. Angry with how the project was handled, many in the community argued the plant was not necessary. While predictions of a population boom did not eventuate, the 2016 ABS Census showed that in five years the permanent residential population grew by 21.8 per cent. And now, in 2021, we find ourselves in drought again.
In more recent years, Gladstone Regional Council’s environmental efforts to preserve the Discovery Coast have been focused on irradicating pests and diseases.
Iconic pandanas trees have been dying back in large numbers due to an infection caused by the pandanas leafhopper insect. As far south as Baffle Creek, the Council has been working with pandanas dieback expert Joel Fostin and Coastal Ecosystem to treat infected trees, mitigate the risk of infection, establish a pandanas nursery and revegetate areas that have been lost. The infection damages the trees’ ability to provide a food source, a wildlife habitat and to help stabilise dunes in our coastal ecosystems.
Over the next three years, starting in September this year, Gladstone Regional Council will work with neighbouring councils and environmental groups to humanely remove European red foxes that prey on endangered sea turtle eggs and hatchlings. A fox den detection dog and handler will help locate active fox dens near turtle rookeries for fumigation.