Grampians Peak Trail could damage environment - Victorian National Parks Association

Grampians Peak Trail master plan

Grampians Peak Trail master plan

THE Victorian National Parks Association has raised concerns the Grampians Peak Trail could damage the character of the Grampians National Park.

Parks Victoria, Grampians Tourism and Tourism Victoria have released a draft plan for a 144-kilometre walking trail in the park.

It will extend from Mt Zero in the north to the Dunkeld in the south.

Association spokesman Phil Ingamells said the option for long-term leases on planned 'hiker huts' along the trail would leave people open to expansion to remain viable.

"These will be privately leased, privately run and the expense of running one of those things will demand people expand," he said.

Mr Ingamells said expanded facilities would mean more land would have to be cleared because of fire regulations.

"They won't just be tucked in among the gum trees, they'll be in an area of cleared land," he said.

The government has recently introduced private leases of up to 99 years in national parks.

Mr Ingamells said if the hiker huts expanded it could damage existing accommodation on the fringes of the Grampians.

He said long-term preservation of the Grampians National Park could see it used in the future to give disaffected youth life experience.

"They could market these areas for disaffected youth in the way people take youth up to the Kokoda Trail," Mr Ingamells said.

"To see national parks as something for high-end tourism is a short-term economic benefit."

Mr Ingamells said Tidal River at Wilson's Promontory was a classic case of a Victorian national park being developed for commercial interests.

"Before the Second World War there was no road and people had to walk in," he said. "A wild and remote bay in the national park was used as temporary camp for commando training and since then we've had to fight proposals for accommodation in the park.

"Once you lose the natural area and that experience of being in the wild, it's very hard to pull it back."

Mr Ingamells said the trail had to try to retain the unique experience available within the Grampians.

Parks Victoria is considering submissions to the draft plan.

The final document will be released later this year.

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