A group of cave enthusiasts believe Parks and Wildlife is gearing up to restrict access and introduce fees for anyone to use the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. The cavers, led by former Lake and Jewel Cave manager Trevor McGowan, were told it could be three years before they could access caves in bush affected by December’s Calgardup bushfire. But Mr McGowan said a series of meetings with Parks and Wildlife managers was told the blaze — and the introduction of a six-point plan to guide Boranup’s recovery — were a chance for a “reset”. Mr McGowan told the Times cavers believed that reset included the potential introduction of fees attempted more than a decade ago and already in place for many of the State’s national parks. It follows the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ support for the Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association’s Karri Bowl project to develop a major attraction in Boranup which would eventually entail shifting a portion of Caves Road. “They immediately saw that as an opportunity to block off roads and charge entry into the national park,” Mr McGowan said. A spokesperson for Parks and Wildlife offered a single line in response to the Times’ inquiries. “There are currently no plans to change national park fees in the area,” he said. But Mr McGowan and his group rejected that. The cavers wanted to assess damage risks to the local karst system, with rainfall after bushfires likely to send sand into caves, damaging formations, but their efforts were rebuffed. Mr McGowan said talk around the Boranup recovery plan clearly indicated a crackdown on access, which would also affect four-wheel-drivers on Capes beaches. Parks and Wildlife said caves and abseiling were off-limits for now due to the bushfire, restoration work and concerns about falling tree limbs. The service did not comment on what future consideration would be given to park access fees as the Karri Bowl project and Boranup recovery plan advanced. Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Sharna Kearney was unaware of any moves to introduce fees to the major attraction. “Through the six-point plan, our community recognises there is a critical need to increase the park’s resourcing to manage the four-plus million visitors it receives annually and protect its significant environmental, cultural, social and economic values for future generations,” she said. Shire president Paula Cristoffanini, one of the signatories to the plan, did not respond to questions around the appropriateness of fees. “I look forward to working constructively with stakeholders and government to restore our national park to the jewel it should be, which is so central to the wellbeing of our community,” she said. Mr McGowan said allowing horses and businesses using quad bikes to access national park was at odds with the concerns levelled against cavers, abseilers and recreational walkers.