Powers should be given to council officers to fine cyclists and dog owners that illegally enter conservation parks, Shadow Environment Minister Michelle Lensink said today.
“Extending the existing powers of parks and wildlife officers to authorised council officers will help ensure our parks are protected,’’ Ms Lensink said.
“Volunteer conservation groups are frustrated that no action is being taken to prevent dogs and bike riders from entering these parks despite clear signage that they are prohibited.
“Areas set aside for specific conservation purposes are not being protected because park officers are rarely available to patrol for illegal activities in metropolitan parks.”
“This authority should be extended to local government where dog management officers for example have similar roles.”
“This is not an anti-dog owners or cyclist policy it is simply requiring that rules that already exist be upheld.
“Councils should be permitted to retain funds raised from fines issued to cover costs”.
Ms Lensink said she intended to introduce a Bill to Parliament later this session to ensure environmentally sensitive sites are protected.
Sites targeted include Hallett Cove Conservation Park, Mount George Conservation Park and the Yurrebilla Trail.
“Volunteers who help conserve these areas are concerned that dogs elevate soil fertility and change ph balance to the detriment of indigenous plants,’’ Ms Lensink said.
“They spread weeds like scabiosa, horehound, caltrop and more which volunteer groups are trying to eradicate, and damage slow growing fragile vegetation.’’
“Both mountain bikes and dogs have been identified as problems by staff of the Waite Arboretum illegally entering the Yurrebilla Trail which has suffered soil erosion and weed infestation as a result.
“Illegal entry of dogs into the Mount George Conservation Park has led to the Adelaide Hills Council considering changing the status of an adjoining park to an on-leash area to prevent dogs from inadvertently entering Mount George, angering many dog owners”