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Off-road drivers hinder conservation efforts at Lake Whangape

Four-wheel drive enthusiasts are being urged to stop driving on the shores of Lake Whangape as they are contributing to the poor water quality of the second largest lake in the lower Waikato River basin.

There have been recent issues with vehicles damaging fences at Shuggs Landing, a public access point for the lake, which is between Rangiriri and Glen Murray.

Off-roaders have also been driving along the beach and damaging the foreshore at the far end of the beach.

Waikato District Council owns the small reserve at Shuggs Landing and it has recently put in bollards to prevent off-roaders from damaging the environment.

A five-year restoration plan involving all the lake’s users - including the farming community - and DOC, Waikato Regional Council and Waikato-Tainui aims to make a difference by prioritising restoration activities.

Keeping cattle out of the lake and replanting are key elements of the restoration project.

Damaged fences make it easier for cattle to escape paddocks and get into the lake.

Areas that are due to be planted cannot have four-wheel-drive vehicles running through them because that will damage the plantings, as well as continue to annoy local residents with noise and mud being deposited on roads.

According to DOC’s Biodiversity Ranger for Lake Whangape, Richard Gribble, fencing to exclude livestock around the lake margins is fundamental to the protection and restoration of Lake Whangape as animals contaminate the water and damage lake banks.

“We are also controlling weeds such as alligator weed, yellow flag iris, royal fern and willow at specific sites and revegetating the lake’s shoreline with more than 53,000 plants around the lake,” he said.

“Restoring Lake Whangape’s water quality will be a long process because there are multiple issues to address.

"However, restoration partners are committed to working together alongside the local community to address the environmental impacts.”