Fight a little too familiar

IT'S A stoush all too familiar for Fraser Island: conservation versus tourism.

Birds Queensland president Mike West wants 18 kilometres of ocean beach from Hook Point north off limits to 4WDs.

Fraser Coast 4WD Hire Association secretary David Robertson says compromise is the answer.

Mr West is worried about migratory birds, such as waders and terns, which roost on the eastern beach after travelling between the Arctic circle and Siberia and Alaska.

They feed in the waters off the island while others rest near the shoreline or in the dunes. But they are being disturbed by 4WDs, Mr West says, and he wants the state and federal governments to do something.

“Fraser Island was listed as world heritage for natural reasons, not for tourism.

“That's an eco-crime of horrendous proportions.

“Not one millimetre of the trafficable beach has been put aside for environmental reasons.”

Mr West says if the inland road was upgraded 4WD enthusiasts would not have to use the 18km stretch.

But for that to happen the Queensland Government needs an estimated $2 million, money it does not have.

Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones has committed to closing the strip but only after the road is resealed, which the government does not have the funds to do.

Mr West has therefore written to Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett asking for financial help while Ms Jones has also spoken with Mr Garrett's office.

Mr Robertson says there should be a balance between tourism and conservation.

He agrees the inland road is in a terrible state but argues that not only would funding be needed for its upgrade but also for its maintenance and entry and exit. And, even if all that was done, there are other concerns.

“What will it be like come Christmas and Easter?” he said.

“It would be a nightmare.

“The reality is it should be separated to be two one-way roads.”

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