Hoons block fire access trails
THE NATIONAL Parks and Wild- life Service (NPWS) is calling for "hoons" driving four-wheel-drives and trail bikes to stop putting lives at risk by wilfully damaging access trails in local national parks - particularly those used for fire management and emergencies.
NPWS Clarence area manager Andrew Lugg said in the latest incident gates installed to protect fire trails in the Station Creek area of the Southern Yuraygir National Park had been broken, ripped out and the road damaged.
"Most people do the right thing but some four-wheel-drive and trail bike owners don't," Mr Lugg said.
"Unnecessary damage following wet weather can make the road impassable for essential services.
"When these do dry out the taxpayer is left with the cost of repairs which can easily be avoided if people simply acted responsibly.
"Damage also contributes to erosion and is time-consuming and expensive to repair. It also prevents NPWS staff doing their core work such as weed and pest control."
Mr Lugg said so far this summer, the bill for damaged signs, barriers and roads had already exceeded $7000 with the total likely to increase before the season was out.
He said trails such as the ones which have been damaged are actually off-limits to members of the general public.
"Despite the recent wet weather it is important that the fire-trail network is in good working order, for the safety of fire crews and the public," he said.
"This is why management trails are restricted. People should only drive on public roads and all vehicles must be registered and the drivers and riders licensed."
Mr Lugg said NPWS rangers regularly patrolled these trails and people caught in unauthorised areas faced a $300 on-the-spot fine.
Anyone who witnesses illegal activity in national parks around the Clarence Valley was urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the Grafton NPWS office on 6641 1500.