Off road hoons are destroying Wallarah National National Park from smashing their way through gates to driving across areas of revegetation.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service has spent tens of thousands of dollars replacing gates and surveillance equipment.
“They cut the locks off and put their own on. They use infra-red detectors to find the surveillance cameras and smash those too,” a park user who is concerned about the behaviour said.
Off road vehicles are not permitted on Wallarah National Park’s network of trails, which are designated for walking access and fire management purposes.
Some vehicles are illegally gaining access to the park via Pacific Highway and Spoon Rocks Road at Caves Beach, which is not National Parks managed land.
Once at Pinny Beach vehicle owners deliberately drive over areas of sensitive revegetation.
“There were seven of them down there last weekend. Little Creek is silted up now because they are continually driving across it,” the park user, who did not want to be identified said.
A National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman confirmed the service been forced to replace damaged gates, bollards and signs installed to manage access.
“Illegal access damages native bushland including a number of sensitive sites providing habitat for endangered species (Pultanaea maritima) and an endangered ecological community (Themeda grassland on Coastal headlands) as well as significant aboriginal cultural sites on Pinney Beach,” he said.
Compliance patrols are undertaken by NPWS staff as part of joint enforcement programs with NSW Police.
“Information from the community regarding illegal activities is always welcome however, not all reports are supported by sufficient evidence to proceed to prosecution,” the spokesman said.
Hunter off road vehicle enthusiasts are campaigning to prevent future restrictions on access to Nile Mile Beach.
The campaign is the latest chapter in a long-running battle between off road enthusiasts and conservationists in the Hunter.
A proposal to restrict 4WD access to parts of Stockton Beach in 2013 made national headlines in when thousands of 4WD enthusiasts descended on Newcastle to protest.