New dog walking signs at Crescent Head are set to be up by Christmas as a part of Kempsey Shire Council's plans to clearly zone areas for the public.
The plans also include the re-designation of dog access at the football oval beside the school.
Council has been working collaboratively with animal groups and the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) since 2020, to review areas where people could walk their dogs on and off leash, as well as making sure signage is easy to understand.
There was an extensive community survey through YourSay Macleay, that amounted to over 715 responses from the public in regards to the preferred access and signage options for dog walking at Hat Head, South West Rocks, Crescent Head and Grassy Head.
A budget of $15,000 was approved by the council for the implementation of revised access signage around the Crescent Head area.
The council also recently advocated on behalf of the public to the NSW government's Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean and the NPWS, to reclassify parts of Hat Head and Goolawah from national park to regional park status, so that dogs would be able to enter those areas.
Mr Kean and NPWS advised against the re-classification of these beaches due to the high conservation value of the lands and species living in the area.
A spokesperson for the NPWS said the responsibility for providing dog walking opportunities for the community is undertaken by council, but it has met and continues to meet with the council and dog walkers to answer queries.
"National parks are created to provide protection in perpetuity for biodiversity and cultural values of that land. Killick and Goolawah beaches provide important habitat a range of threatened shore and migratory bird species, raptors and sea turtles," the NPWS spokesperson said.
"The freshwater wetlands adjacent to Killick Beach are also a stronghold for the conservation of the Endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog."
"Unleashed domestic dogs are well recognised as a key threat to the ongoing conservation of threatened shorebird species, including the endangered Pied Oystercatcher and Little Tern - both of which are regularly recorded on Killick and Goolawah beaches."
NPWS does not support the council's proposal to re-gazette part of Hat Head National Park and the inter-tidal zone south of the beach access in Goolawah National Park to regional park, as categorising a reserve to a lesser level of protection status is not consistent with their conservational plans.
Council general manager, Craig Milburn said council has another meeting with residents and the NPWS in December, but National Parks has made their position clear.
"Council was approached by members of the community to support their request for the National Parks to consider re-classification, we resolved to write to the Minister along those lines, and the Minister has written back and very clearly stated National Parks position," Mr Milburn said.
"Dogs are a very positive aspect of the community, I think any pets are. The key issue is finding compromises where people with dogs can exercise them off-leash, in areas that are safe.
"What we have done for the moment, is we have gone from different hours and seasonal to saying 'this area is for dogs off-leash 24/7' so it makes it clear for people who have dogs, they can go there."
As a part of the community engagement process, the Crescent Head Dog and Walkers Group, raised several concerns with council.
The association said that although these coastal villages contain enough green spaces per head of population to meet planning standards, they lacked designated off leash dog walking areas.
The association believed Crescent Head did not have one suitable 'legal' green space available given dogs are not permitted off leash in many public spaces.
The association also said that Goolawah Beach has been twice intensively sand-mined and is even less environmentally sensitive than the section of Killick Beach from Richardson's Crossing to Crescent Head village.
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