An environmental group has called for restricted access to Lake Burrumbeet to help control the scourge of pollution and degradation.
The Friends of Lake Burrumbeet group says it is fed up with people leaving rubbish, cutting down native trees, disturbing fauna and birds from nesting and leaving behind faeces and toilet paper.
President Susan Moodie said a first step to combating problems would be erecting a gate at the south shore that could be closed at night.
She also suggested a car park be built to help control which areas of the lake were walked or driven, particularly by 4WDs, which she said caused immeasurable damage.
In June this year, a number of mature red gums were cut down from Lake Burrumbeet’s shore. The trees were up to 300 years in age, and the act had a significant impact on the Wadawurrung community.
The lake has featured in numerous media reports over the years due to reports of rubbish dumping and litter.
Ms Moodie said the Friends group was left to clean up after every hoon and every party.
“It’s because of litter, cutting down the trees, hooning, defecation everywhere. This is like the field of turds in summer,” she said.
“The assumption about what you’re allowed to do has gone on so long that it’s hard to change.”
Ms Moodie said the problems started when the caravan park on the south shore, which had toilets and a fee entrance, was closed and the area was opened to unrestricted access.
“You can have entrances that can be shut off without being able to be vandalised. Yes they’re expensive, but Friends groups can petition, raise funds, and get things done,” she said.
“I don’t care how difficult it is. We know the problems and if we don’t resolve them, the future will hold us accountable.
“It’s ignorance and it’s unconscionable – and there’s willful destruction going on too.”
DELWP Midlands district manager Jasmine Filmer said the department was keen to work with the Friends.
She said DELWP conducted weekly patrols at the lake’s recreation sites to undertake rubbish collection and to monitor campfires.
“DELWP conducts compliance operations to investigate offences occurring at the reserve under its legislation and also works with Victoria Police to ensure that the area is protected and safe for everyone to use,” she said.
“Lake Burrumbeet is public open space used by a range of people and the practicalities of using gates to restrict public access to manage visitor behaviour will need to be assessed.”