Rain clouds loom reflected in the water at the Jerrabomberra Wetlands car park. Photo: Graham Tidy
Many Canberra residents don't know it exists, but the Jerrabomberra Wetlands could become the ACT's next big tourist attraction.
Chief Minister Katy Gallagher will today release for public comment a draft master plan to guide the future development of the nature reserve on the eastern edge of Lake Burley Griffin.
''Jerrabomberra Wetlands is an important environment and recreational area that the ACT government is keen to develop into an iconic reserve, for the enjoyment of all Canberrans and also to attract interstate and overseas visitors,'' Ms Gallagher said.
More than 77 species of waterbirds have been recorded at the wetlands, including the Australian painted snipe, Latham's snipe and the sharp-tailed sandpiper.
The draft master plan includes a proposal for a multi-use visitor hub, including a cafe.
''The roof of the visitor centre will host an interactive viewing platform built on two levels overlooking the habitat precinct and providing a bird's-eye view over pools, soaks, muddy flats and streams,'' the draft master plan says.
''The platform will offer opportunities to view waterfowl breeding behaviours through high-powered viewing scopes.
''Real-time video feeds will bring to life platypus and waterbird activity from hidden locations and 3-D images of waterfowl species will show visitors what they can see in the reserve.''
Other proposals that will be considered for the final master plan include picnic areas, a lookout tower, walking track and the encouragement of research projects.
The draft master plan was released after Environment Minister Simon Corbell launched this week a discussion paper as part of a review of the Environment Protection Act.
Mr Corbell said the Environment Protection Act came into force in 1997 and it was timely for it to be reviewed.
ACT Greens environment spokesman Shane Rattenbury said he hoped the review would be conducted more quickly than a previous review of the the Nature Conservation Act.
Mr Rattenbury said the Nature Conservation Act review was first announced in the lead-up to the 2004 election but was yet to be finalised.
''The [Environment Protection] Act certainly needs reviewing, but based on past history, the public might wonder whether they should prepare their submissions for next week or 2020,'' Mr Rattenbury said.
Mr Corbell said proposed changes to the Nature Conservation Act had been delayed while national discussions through the Council of Australian Governments were finalised about the interaction of federal, state and territory environment laws.
''We have it appropriate that we're able to take account of the COAG process in finalising our review of the Nature Conservation Act,'' Mr Corbell said.
The executive director of the Conservation Council ACT Region, Clare Henderson, said the terms of reference for the review of the Environment Protection Act appeared to be too narrow.
''The review is narrowly limited to the role of the Act in pollution control yet the Act has a far broader objective of protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment,'' Ms Henderson said.