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Enjoy the bush but do the right thing

Thursday 8 August, 2013

If you’re thinking about heading out into the bush this weekend, while you’re having a great time make sure you are aware of the regulations.

People doing the wrong thing in parks around Bendigo, Castlemaine, Inglewood and St Arnaud recently had to explain themselves to officers patrolling to protect our local parks and forests.

A joint compliance operation between Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), Parks Victoria and Victoria Police targeted firewood theft, illegal vehicle use, including motorcycles, as well as other offences being committed in parks.

Officers on motorcycles and in other vehicles patrolled parks including Greater Bendigo National Park, Kooyoora State Park, Castlemaine Diggings National Heritage Park, St Arnaud Range National Park and other parks, reserves and forests to educate visitors and enforce the law.

Sixteen people were detected committing offences, including vehicles operating off road, riding unregistered motorbikes and riding without a licence, and received fines of up to $1000 each.

“The public are reminded that the definition of a road is ‘a road or track formed for the passage of vehicles with four or more wheels’ and that driving or riding on anything else - this includes single tracks such as walking and pushbike tracks - may make the driver or rider open to receiving an infringement,” said Parks Victoria Northern Goldfields Ranger in Charge David Major.

“Anybody riding a motorbike on any area of public land must be licensed and the motorbike must be registered. Without either of these two things riders are only permitted to ride on private land,” David said.

“We want people to enjoy the bush but they must be considerate of other forest users and the environment and adhere to the relevant regulations,” he said.

“Drivers and riders were also detected in the Big Hill section of the Greater Bendigo National Park, which is not open for public vehicle access, including motorbikes. In addition all public access is prohibited in the Big Hill Reference area, which includes pushbikes and walkers. Offenders detected in these areas may face infringement notices or penalties of up to $144. Contact Parks Victoria on 13 1963 for further information.”

 The public is also reminded that domestic firewood may only be collected from public land during designated firewood collection seasons and only from designated firewood collection areas. People who collect firewood outside designated firewood collection areas and outside the firewood collection season, or take more than the maximum allowable, can face on-the-spot fines of $577. If the matter proceeds to court, the maximum penalty can be up to $7218, one year imprisonment or both.

The spring firewood collection season starts on 1 September and maps of designated firewood collections seasons will be available at www.depi.vic.gov.au or from DEPI offices.

DEPI, Parks Victoria and Victoria Police will continue to patrol local parks and forests regularly to educate the local community and park visitors about caring for our parks.

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