Denmark Shire councillors will vote on amendments to a proposed bird sanctuary at Prawn Rock Channel after the plan received 123 submissions during its public notice period. The proposed bird sanctuary aims to protect shorebirds by limiting interactions between birds, dogs and other users and would sit alongside a no-dogs zone and dog exercise area on Wilson Inlet sand flats. At a council meeting on May 19 last year, the council adopted the ocean to channel upgrades concept plan which endorsed the consultation plan for the proposed bird sanctuary. At the March 15 council meeting this year, the proposal was unanimously supported to be put out for public comment. It attracted 123 public submissions — including comments from Denmark Dog Owners and Denmark Bird Group — of which 60 responses were in favour of the sanctuary, 56 opposed and seven neutral. Shire projects manager Damian Schwarzbach has prepared a report for the June 21 council meeting which summarises the submissions, finalises the determination and makes recommendations on the operational aspect of the proposed bird sanctuary. Key points discussed in the submissions included access to the beach, the size of dog exercise areas, types of fencing and the paths on the northern part of the island. Mr Schwarzbach will recommend the dog areas policy be updated after several comments about the size of the dog exercise areas. “The proposed determination from March 2022 had no reduction of dog exercise areas and was not in conflict with the dog areas policy,” he said. “The amendments proposed to the advertised determination enable a modest increase in the dog exercise areas. “However, this will require a modification to the policy to reduce the dog prohibited areas.” The proposal also recommended the northern access point be removed to provide separation between the sanctuary and where dogs are let off the leash. The southern access point enters 60m from the fence line and was recommended to be the only access point from the car park. Due to feedback about mobility issues with the southern access point, the officer report will recommend council retain the northern access path and move the proposed sanctuary 30m north to create a buffer between the path and bird sanctuary. Several submissions questioned the visual impact and need for a fence across the island and sand flats. Mr Schwarzbach also said there was a misconception about permanent fencing around the entire Wilson Inlet. “Based on a number of the responses, there is a misconception in the community that there will be permanent fencing across the whole inlet — this is incorrect,” he said. “The only permanent fencing proposed will be across the island, with temporary, seasonal fencing across the exposed sand flats as already occurs seasonally.” The officer recommendation includes a central pathway rather than a perimeter pathway to a bird hide due to habitat, water inundation and access concerns. At the June 21 council meeting, councillors will vote on the officer recommendations and whether to authorise the chief executive to give public notice of the amendments. Councillors will also vote on the officers recommendation to amend the Dog Areas Policy to align with the proposed bird sanctuary.