Clampdown after spike in illegal camping
park campers cop 45 fines
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A GROUP of travellers has copped 45 fines
for camping illegally in WA's Margaret River region.
Other campers planning to free camp are now
being warned to reconsider amidst concerns over environmental damage to
bushland and increased bushfire risk in the Wooditjup National Park just
outside of Margaret River township.
Shire of Augusta Margaret River rangers, Parks and Wildlife rangers and
police are working closely to deal with a spike in illegal camping.
Shire Ranger Coordinator Narelle Graue said the region was renowned for
its pristine natural environment and the high volume of campers setting up
in the bush with no toilets, or rubbish disposal facilities was putting
significant pressure on bushland areas.
"Whilst we welcome visitors to our region, there are no free camping spots
in our shire," she said.
"The true cost of this type of camping is paid for by the environment and
indirectly by residents whose rates go towards cleaning up the rubbish
left behind, rehabilitating trampled bushland and covering water bills
from travellers relying on public showers and other facilities."
She said the number of visitors peaked at this
time of year, with little accommodation or campsites available
"Travellers intending to live out of their vehicles need to have made
arrangements at official campsites or on private properties before
arriving," she explained.
"If you are looking for seasonal work, there are wineries allowing workers
to park their vehicles and stay as part of their work entitlements.
"We recommend contacting your employer or prospective employer to discuss
accommodation options if you are unable to find somewhere to stay or lose
your accommodation while employed in the region."
Ms Graue urged local residents willing to offer spare rooms or a space for
travellers to park are encouraged to advertise on Margaret River
Backpackers Facebook group or on Gumtree.
Shire Emergency Services manager Adam Jasper said illegal camping
presented a major safety concern over bushfires, particularly with current
dryer than usual conditions.
"We've recently had two major bushfire incidents in our shire, with
official campsites evacuated in the nick of time and several people's
belongings burned to the ground.
"Firefighters won't know where you are if you're free camping in the bush,
and I've seen fires move so quickly they can create incredibly dangerous
situations in a short period of time."
He said bushland was tinder-dry, with conditions usually only expected at
the end of summer.
"Bush cooking on open stoves or lighting campfires in undesignated spots
can unintendedly cause a bushfire," he explained.
"This creates a very real risk to the surrounding community where people
live and work."
Illegal camping carries a $100 penalty, while illegal dumping will attract
a $200 fine.
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