A SCORE of trailbike riders have been handed infringement penalties totalling more than $8,000 after being caught illegally riding in protected areas of the Great Otway National Park.
A Parks Victoria enforcement operation supported by Victoria Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) issued the penalty notices to 21 riders last month.
Trailbike riding is legally allowed within many state forests and parks, but riders must remain on designated vehicle tracks.
Off-road riding damages the environment and can place other members of the public at risk.
The enforcement operation, which saw more than 200 riders stopped, was brought together following observations by Parks Victoria staff and reports from the Surf Coast community.
Offences included riding on management-only roads, riding in a water catchment area and riding off-road in a national park.
A number of individuals were also stopped for unlicensed and unregistered riding, and for carrying a firearm in a national park, matters that will be further investigated by Victoria Police.
“Thousands of kilometres of designated tracks are available for trailbike riding state-wide, so it’s disappointing to see people going off-road in the national park and damaging the environment,” Parks Victoria ranger team leader Scott Nicholson said.
“The fines for off-road riding range from $160 to $790, so it’s important that riders are clear on where they can and can’t go.
“Great Otway National Park protects significant populations of native plants and animals, including threatened species, which is why damaging activities like off-road riding are not tolerated.
“Protecting the landscape and habitat is critical for ensuring the park remains healthy now and into the future.”
For more information about trailbike riding on public land, head to parks.vic.gov.au or delwp.vic.gov.au.