Damage to an endangered species at Bass Point Reserve is proof that Shellharbour City Council was wrong to take away park rangers from Bass Point and Blackbutt Forest, says the United Services Union.
USU organiser Rudi Oppitz said damage to a white-flowered wax plant (cynanchum elegans) confirmed the concerns of its members that the environment at the state heritage-listed Bass Point Reserve would suffer under the new council regime.
"This is an endangered, protected plant," Mr Oppitz said.
"In the last 10 days council have had either one of its employees or a contractor go in and attack and damage this plant," he said.
"This is exactly the issue we had been raising with the council, we were asking how it was going to protect the flora and fauna in those parks."
Mr Oppitz said the matter had been referred to the Office of Environment and Heritage.
"The union and members were right, we said without having qualified rangers in there protected species would be damaged. Someone has to take responsibility for this ... it is an absolute disgrace."
A council spokeswoman said "a few branches of the plant were damaged during a pruning process to remove vegetation from the road to improve safe vision, site distances and lane clearing, in accordance with the Roads Act".
"Council has implemented a stringent process to review environmental factors prior to this kind of work in the future," the spokeswoman said.
On Tuesday night, Shellharbour councillors will be presented with a report on the impacts on Bass Point and Blackbutt Forest of the restructure, prepared in response to a question from councillor Peter Moran.
The report said that before the restructure, there were four permanent staff based out of Bass Point and Blackbutt reserves.
In the staff restructure, roles undertaken by the park rangers were given to other sections within the council "where these activities were more aligned".
"Specifically, compliance went to city development with the ordinance officers, cleaning went to city services cleaners and all other gardening activities were absorbed back into parks and gardens," the report said.
"The maintenance of reserves has been delivered to a high standard during this transition."
Instead of a park ranger claiming overtime to lock the reserves' gates each evening, a security contractor now locked them, the report said.