ILLEGAL CAMPSITE: A campsite in the bush just South of the Brunswick Heads Surf Club.
ILLEGAL CAMPSITE: A campsite in the bush just South of the Brunswick Heads Surf Club. Contributed

LETTER: Illegal Bruns campers burn bush and threaten vollies

BYRON Shire Chemical Free Landcare (BSCFL) Group have been working to restore native vegetation off the fire trail just South of the Brunswick heads Surf Club.

Not only have the volunteer group been battling the weeds they are now battling illegal campers who they claim have taken to burning sections of the regenerated area to improve their campsites.

BSCFL also claims that on one occasion illegal campers used knives to threaten volunteers.

The group has written an open letter to Byron Councillors, Crown Lands and the wider community appealing for help with their work in preserving the area.

BSCFL coordinator Nadia de Souza Pietramale writes:

For the past 8 years I have been requesting assistance regarding this matter with the local authorities and our concerns have been ignored.

A recent fire from a camp site has burned around 3 acres on Lot 428, just South of the Brunswick Surf Club, over a large patch of the Threatened Species, Pink Nodding Orchid.

Four weeks ago one of the illegal campers on our site just did a burn off, so he could clear some of the natural regeneration, to pitch his tent on a new spot.

Byron Shire Council has assisted with fences on the North boundary, however they need to re-build the barriers on the west side of the fire trail gate. Signs are very confusing and over crowded near the gate. There are zero 'no camping' signs on the Crown Land lot 428. (We beleive) the local police even think that camping there is legal.

Four wheel drive vehicles, push bikes, and motor bikes are driving over regeneration areas, including a large patch of pink nodding orchid (a threatened species). There is a need for infrastructure- particularly clear signs (indicating) where the dog walking tracks are; and to stop private vehicles driving into the fire trial and over the regeneration area on Crown Land and Tyagarah Nature Reserve (TNR). The existing barriers need to be replaced and reinforced. Signs need to clearly state the activities that are permitted on areas and that fines are applied.

The state of mental health of people camping are a concern for our volunteers - one of them has even been threatened with knives when passing by a camping site.

Also we still have had no apology from Crown Lands for the recent spraying with synthetic herbicide on our chemical free site that we have been working on steadily for the past 8 years. Who did this? Why was it done? Was it legally done? With less than 0.5ha to go, we were on track to complete it by June. In line with recorded deaths of Banksia integrifolia elsewhere, we have documented the death of Banksia integrifolia saplings as a result of spot spraying on our site. It is difficult to understand also the mysterious spraying of small seedlings which would have been eradicated with our regular follow-ups. We have now completed all primary work.

BSCFL volunteers have along the years witnessed issues stemming from the removal of Bitou Bush: the death of Wallabies caused by dog chases, hacking native trees, a large goanna was also a victim of the latest camping fire. Unfortunately now that we have opened the site by removing the Bitou Bush, we are attracting other problems and we need support from local authorities urgently to manage this issues.

We have done a big clean up all around the northern boundary of the TNR in 2015, but I am happy to join forces and do another one. However, I think it may be a waste of time if the community isn't backed up by local public land managers.

Nadia de Souza Pietramale

Coordinator

byronshirechemicalfreelandcare.org

BSCFL is a project of Mullum Seed

Mullumbimby Sustainability Education and Enterprise Development Incorporated


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