Times readers are split over any move to introduce fees for access the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and nearby beaches. As canvassed by the Times this week, local cavers feared restrictions introduced since December’s Calgardup bushfire, in the heart of the park, could augur a shift to bring fee-for-access in line with other Parks and Wildlife sites across the State. It also follows the redevelopment in recent years of government-owned campgrounds including Contos to harness potential revenue streams. Many residents on the Times’ Facebook page said local people and visitors should be charged differently, with some fearing surf breaks and beaches accessible by four-wheel-drive could be ruled out. “Not for locals, but yes for visitors — and I say that as an ex-local, future visitor,” Clare Jenkins said. “I don’t think you should be slogged every time you want to access Boranup.” Other residents, like local man Phil Callaghan, said any fees should be levied equally. “Why not for ‘locals’ also?” he asked. “Given they’re likely to be using it more frequently, surely they could pay a fee to help maintain and preserve the national parks.” Other Times readers noted equality meant charging fees for the Leeuwin-Naturaliste the same as other national parks. Conservation-minded comments noted income was needed to maintain the national park, which was deemed severely underfunded by a cohort of industry leaders, as reported by the Times last month. “If it means better management to protect our beautiful coast from the impacts of an increasing population, then I’m all for park fees,” former Nature Conservation Margaret River executive officer Caroline Hughes commented. “The problem is the fees will probably only go to cover the cost of fee collection and policing.” Resident Margaret Moir said annual passes were a good alternative. “I’m up for it 100 per cent if it means better facilities and better management,” she said. Margaret River newcomer Alice Westcott said she bought a parks pass before moving to the region and was surprised the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park didn’t have them already in place. “Considering the amount of visitors we receive, I’d say the upkeep would be a pretty penny,” she said. Others noted any fees could be absorbed in policing such a big area. Last month, the Times reported the local national park received more than four million visitors a year, more than all other WA national parks combined.