A FURORE over foreshore access has highlighted the divide between conservation and public right of use.
A recent decision by the foreshore committee at Capel Sound to prevent “goat tracks” being used for people to access the beach has upset some nearby residents.
Eighty-two-year-old Darryl Donaldson, who lives on Point Nepean Road, said he and a few neighbours had come to enjoy immediate access to the beach for “decades” by using tracks through the bush.
He did not believe the tracks were causing any damage to the delicate coastal bush environment, where they had existed for up to 50 years.
Foreshore committee spokesperson Travis Graham disagrees. Having been in the job for 12 months, he and his crew are focused on restoring the natural coastal habitat and remedying the damage caused by people trampling the bush.
“Yes, there are people who believe they can do what they want, but I’d like them to understand we have to protect what’s here and do our best to restore what’s already been lost,” he said.
“This is a delicate area. There are some people who think they are using paths, but they are walking through natural coastal bush, they are trampling sensitive habitats.”
Graham said the 3.8 kilometres of foreshore area was home to native orchids and other flora and fauna that were at risk from losing their “corridors” if people did not obey the rules.
“There are several nearby designated access points which we point people to, but they don’t want to have to walk,” he said.
“It’s a challenge to keep people out, but the areas some people are using is through a nature reserve, not a public access path.”
Graham said the committee had made a concerted effort to give people easy access to the beach and had approved two paths within 30 and 200 metres of the “goat” track now being used.