Plans to put more restrictions on camping and fishing along the Murray River have been met with angry local push-back.
Unhappy campers gathered at Cobram Civic Centre on Monday to complain to Parks Victoria about the River Red Gum Parks Draft Management Plan, which is open for submissions until September 30.
Parks Victoria ranger Andrew McDougall was at the public meeting to explain the draft plan, which has a range of new restrictions to protect the river from degradation caused partly by waste left behind by campers.
But local camper Bryan Dunn said the plan punished local campers for the behaviour of tourists.
‘‘We’ve picked up garbage by the trailer-load that have been left there by these tourist campers,’’ Mr Dunn said.
‘‘They couldn’t care less. They don’t appreciate the river like we locals do.
‘‘As a local I’ve been here for 57 years. I’ve seen the bush and river deteriorate. It’s because of over-camping and powerboats on the river.’’
Mr Dunn said he had seen regulations grow steadily stricter over the past 57 years.
‘‘Where does it stop? It’s all these little stepping stones that make it harder and harder to go camping at all.’’
Local Rod Cavagna said the problem was caused by government underfunding.
‘‘The Parks Victoria blokes are understaffed,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s only two or three in this area so it’s impossible to police camping behaviour.
‘‘They lack the money to have the proper supervision. It all comes back to the lack of finance from government for this area.
‘‘When you look at the amount of campers coming in for the summer it’s out of control.’’
Local Ray Fitzpatrick said he thought the park rangers were not doing their job properly, and that the rangers’ salaries were not taxpayer dollars well spent.
‘‘We pay for their wages,’’ Mr Fitzpatrick said.
‘‘They’re trying to put the responsibility on the community to make them feel bad when that’s what they get paid to do.
‘‘If they can’t handle that they need to recruit more rangers.
‘‘I look at my family and the generations to come. I’d like them to be able to do what I did in the river and enjoy what nature has to give us.’’
Submissions must be received by September 30.
- Kenji Sato