Plans to put more restrictions on camping along the Murray River have been put on hold for two more weeks due to fierce local opposition.
Following ‘‘strong interest’’ in the River Red Gum Parks Draft Management Plan, Parks Victoria has extended the date for public submissions until October 14.
Parks Victoria regional director Craig Stubbings said the draft plan would protect Victoria’s river red gum floodplain parks, reserves and wetlands from degradation caused partly by over-camping.
‘‘Free camping will continue to be the main form of camping, but with more and more people visiting our outdoors spaces it’s critical people only camp where it’s appropriate and without damaging the environment or important cultural sites,’’ Mr Stubbings said.
The plan would put stricter boundaries and regulations on certain camping sites, with a booking and fee system used in some of the most popular areas.
‘‘It’s great to see people taking an interest in this draft plan, which aims to protect and enhance the river red gum landscape, while encouraging recreation and tourism,’’ Mr Stubbings said.
At a fiery public meeting in Cobram in September, unhappy campers complained to Parks Victoria about the draft plan and the small window of time for submissions.
Cobram Outdoors and Disposals owner Sam Kennedy said the plan would hurt local businesses like his.
‘‘It will take away freedom and experience,’’ Mr Kennedy said.
‘‘It will dramatically change the lifestyle of the people who live in this area.
‘‘Banning dispersed camping in our area will have a massive effect on camp options here.
‘‘The plan will definitely restrict the free camping situation in Cobram.’’
Mr Kennedy said he had been camping in the area since he was two years old.
‘‘In my 40 years of experience the bush is looking better than it ever has,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s more bush than ever before and the fishing is better than ever. You only have to go on Facebook and Instagram to see that.’’
Mr Kennedy said while he had many gripes about the plan, some of the plan’s suggestions seemed reasonable to him.
‘‘Some things may need to be altered adjusted and changed.
‘‘Without proper regulation, camping may become unsustainable,’’ he said.