WIMMERA residents want Parks Victoria to establish better communication around climbing and better staff resourcing.
The organisation hosted a two-hour workshop in Laharum on Tuesday night to inform the future Grampians Landscape Management Plan.
It comes as the Australian Climbers Association of Victoria, a representative body for climbing, assesses plans to mount a legal challenge to Parks Victoria's decision to close off eight areas of the national park to rock climbing.
The plan will underpin decision making for the next 15 years to preserve the Grampians National Park's cultural and environmental values.
It will replace existing management plans for the national park and Black Range State Park, developed in 2003 and 1998 respectively.
Nearly 60 climbers, business owners and other stakeholders from as far away as Adelaide attended the meeting. They were asked what they wanted to see change about the park's management, and their thoughts on improving the park for recreational use and cultural heritage.
Following the meeting, Natimuk resident David Jones said he hoped Parks Victoria could help establish a direct line of communication between climbers and Traditional Owners.
"It would solve so many problems," he said. "It's about building a level of trust and mutual respect between these groups."
Mr Jones said Grampians climbing helped keep Natimuk vibrant, as it was as critical to the town as Mount Arapiles.
Happy Wanderer Holiday Resort owner Janet McLachlan, of Wartook, said climbing access concerns had "decimated" businesses in the area. She called for Parks Victoria to improve information for visitors on where they could climb, and where they couldn't.
Friends of Grampians Gariwerd's Bill Gardner, of Laharum, said Parks Victoria needed to ensure its personnel were appropriately resourced.
Area chief ranger Rhonda McNeil told attendees that Parks Victoria expected further loss of species to impact the national park, and hoped for Traditional Owners to jointly manage more areas.
The organisation's Carol Nichols said it was still working with Traditional Owners on what should happen when areas of cultural significance were rediscovered.
"There is a requirement under the Aboriginal Heritage Act for certain activities to happen," she said. "The sites need to be registered, and then Traditional Owners will decide what they want to do to manage that and come back to us. All of that will feed into the plan as well."
Read what stakeholders have told Parks Victoria at previous meetings
Tuesday's meeting was one of six workshops and five listening posts Parks Victoria is staging in September.
Submissions close on October 6, while a stakeholder reference group will meet in November to review the feedback before writing of the plan begins.
The final plan will be presented to Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D'Ambrosio in late 2020.
Legal challenge on the horizon
Tuesday night's event followed the Australian Climbers Association of Victoria questioning the legality of Parks Victoria's February decision.
The group sent Parks Victoria a letter on September 2 claiming the determination was not supported by the regulations, which state "sport or similar recreational activities are prohibited" in the national park's Special Protection Areas.
Lawyers argued "sport" was confined to prohibiting activities of a competitive nature, conducted under rules. They said by contrast, the power of restriction extended to sport and "other recreational activities".
ACAV spokesman Mike Tomkins said Parks Victoria responded on Friday, saying it did not accept ACAV's legal position on the climbing restrictions. Mr Tomkins said the group now planned to commence proceedings for a judicial review of the decision.
He said 300 of ACAV's 1400 members lived in the Grampians and Wimmera regions.
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