Plovers, dunes, tides, dogs and horses were among the concerns raised by community members at the first Belfast Coastal Reserve Management Plan information session on Tuesday night.
The evening gathering at Port Fairy’s Community Services Centre was the first of two to be held in the south-west.
Parks Victoria’s Ben Hammond said the plan was about trying to please an array of reserve users including dog-walkers, beach-goers, recreational horse-riders and commercial horse trainers.
“It’s a reserve for conservation and recreation and we are trying to find a balance between the two.”
DELWP spokesman Jason Borg said the plan was born of necessity.
“It’s come about because of a need for better controls in place,” he said. “There’s been an escalation of action in the area and this has impacted many reserve users.”
Advocates of the plan said it had allowed for an environmental assessment to be completed on the area after two years.
Community members questioned who would be responsible for the cost of re-vegetation at the reserve if after two years it was found to destroy the land, “like mining”.
Others said off-leash dog walking at the beach was “dull”, called for specific signage moving forward and questioned who would oversee regulations and fines.
Greens candidate for South-West Coast Thomas Campbell said while it was encouraging many community members had attended the event, questions still remained.
“I’m pleased the community attended and had a chance to ask their various questions but for me there are still so many questions I’d like answered.”
Killarney resident Shane Howard said saving the reserve was now a personal undertaking.
“I played at Killarney Beach as a boy,” he said. “This thing goes way back for me.
“I’ll fight for those dunes till the day I die.”
A second information evening will be held at Warrnambool’s Lighthouse on Wednesday, August 22 at 6pm.