REGION - Parks Victoria rangers have noticed an increase in the illegal dumping of household rubbish in parks and reserves around Ararat and Stawell.
Ranger Dave Handscombe said he regularly finds household rubbish while patrolling in reserves close to townships, particularly in the Dunworthy block of the Ararat Hills Regional Park near Ararat, the Deep Lead Flora and Fauna Reserve and in other smaller reserves around Stawell.
"Unfortunately, some people are treating these special places like a tip," Mr Handscombe said.
"Any instances of illegal rubbish dumping will be investigated. Offenders face heavy fines."
Mr Handscombe also reminded people that it is an offence to collect firewood from non-designated areas or to cut down standing timber.
"Firewood collection can only take place within designated firewood collection areas," Mr Handscombe said.
"Standing trees and shrubs, living or dead, must not be felled, broken or harmed in any way.
"While most do the right thing, we are worried about public safety with some firewood collectors felling trees. We don't want to see anyone hurt. Rules are in place in the interests of public safety, as well as to help ensure the sustainability of the firewood supply."
Firewood can only be collected from fallen timber that does not contain hollows and there are also limits on the amount of wood you can collect.
An individual can collect two cubic metres of fallen wood per person per day for personal use and there is a maximum household collection limit of 16 cubic metres per financial year.
Parks Victoria staff will be increasing patrols and using surveillance to detect offences being committed in the area and remind everyone that heavy penalties apply for collecting firewood outside designated collection areas and allocated time periods, collecting more than the maximum allowable amounts, and selling the wood. Typical spot fines are around $560 and offences that go to court may be liable to a fine of more than $7,000.
Firewood collection is permitted for domestic use only. If you suspect the illegal sale of firewood or illegal activity, report this to DSE on 136 186. Maps showing the location of designated firewood collection areas for the 2012 spring firewood collection season are available at: www.dse.vic.gov.au