- Tuesday, 6 June 2023 at 4:04 am
Victorian public land authorities are warning off-road adventurers to obey all closed tracks and gates in forests and parks as seasonal road closures come into effect from this long weekend.
The Conservation Regulator and Forest Fire Management Victoria Authorised Officers are targeting illegal vehicle use and gate breaches on public land during patrols over the cooler, wetter months of the year.
Seasonal closures are in force between June and November every year to protect sensitive environments and to preserve public access tracks when they are most vulnerable to damage. Driving off-road and going around these gates destroys important native plants and vital wildlife habitat, including billy buttons and Clover Glycine.
Between June and November 2022, more than 400 breaches of closed gates and roads across Victoria were recorded, with hotspots in alpine areas, Mt Disappointment State Forest, and Lerderderg State Park.
Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers also fined more than 95 people during the same period for vehicle offences, including illegally driving or riding off-road or on a closed road, and breaching a closed gate.
Last year, a Bairnsdale man was convicted and ordered to pay $1,744 in fines and legal costs after he pleaded guilty to damaging a seasonal closure gate and driving on a closed road in Nunniong State Forest in October 2021.
In Victoria, it is illegal to drive or ride on a closed road on public land. Anyone caught breaching road closure rules can be fined up to $925, and the offence carries a maximum penalty of $9,246 if prosecuted in court.
The public can find out more information about seasonal closures by visiting https://ffm.vic.gov.au/forest-and-road-closures.
Local conditions and weather can affect the timing and locations of road closures, so before leaving home, drivers can check specific tracks via the MapshareVic tool: mapshare.vic.gov.au/webmap/publicaccess/.
If you notice any illegal vehicle use on public land, you can report it anonymously to DEECA on 136 186.
For more information about rules on public land, visit: www.vic.gov.au/rules-in-state-forests