Jobs to go as NPWS restructures

LOCAL jobs could be on the line if the National Parks and Wildlife Service decides to go ahead with a planned restructure to its operational boundaries across NSW, with rumours up to 350 positions will go state-wide in coming years.

While The Daily Examiner has not been able to verify numbers or details with an official representative of NPWS, Woody Head camp ground manager and Clarence Valley councillor Karen Toms said she had been in discussion with local NPWS employees who were devastated by the decision announced internally on Monday.

"It looks like Clarence north and Clarence south will merge, and the Iluka peninsula, including Woody Head, Iluka Bluff and Woombah will be excised from the Clarence, to be managed by a regional office in Alstonville as 66 areas are reduced to 50," Ms Toms said.

"At this stage it's difficult to know what impact it will have on staff in Grafton, but with around 150 staff expected to lose their jobs around the state, it does leave a question mark."

She said there was also a concern for the revenue stream provided by Woody Head camping ground, operated by NPWS, which she estimated to be about $200,000pa, and how that money may be spent in the future.

"Money generated from Woody Head has been used in the region for a number of local conservation and research projects.

"What I fear will happen is that different people will have other priorities for that money and we may see an impact on these projects in the future."

"I think its bad news for the Clarence Valley and I think people are going to be quite shocked by this decision," she said.

Ms Toms also said, as the manager of Wood Head camp ground, the decision would not have an affect on her role with the park, however it would mean in the future she would be dealing with a different group of people.

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said while he had not been made aware of any changes, other than what he had heard from the community over the past few days, he would be making further enquiries.

"I'm due to meet with officers of the National Parks and Wildlife Services shortly," he said.

Mr Gulaptis said it appeared to be an operational matter for the NPWS but he was yet to confirm the details.

Iluka residents have also spoken out, worried about job losses and an increased risk to the village from bushfire if NPWS does not continue to effectively manage the area.

With Bundjalung National Park on three sides, resident Kay Jeffrey said the decision didn't make any sense.

"We belong to the Clarence Valley, not the Richmond Valley," Mrs Jeffrey said.

"We can't afford to lose any more jobs."

The Daily Examiner made a number of attempts to contact a spokesperson for NPWS, but at the time of filing this story, there has been no response to the claims made.

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