Volunteers at two Goulburn natural attractions are appealing for community help, following a spate of vandalism.
The West Goulburn bushland reserve and Eastgrove wetlands have been targeted in recent weeks.
Bushland reserve chair, Bob Kirk, said a deliberately lit fire on the night of January 28 in Mary Street burnt a small area. A passerby quickly alerted NSW Fire and Rescue to the outbreak, which could have spread to nearby bushland.
But a short time later, a burnt log was dumped on a table in the reserve's central shelter, causing damage and necessitating its replacement. The council had rebuilt the shelter, originally constructed by volunteers in 2018 but destroyed by fire in 2021.
Graffiti has also been sprayed on seats, used vapes and other rubbish dumped and trees chopped down. Motorcyclists have also ridden through restored areas.
"It certainly is disheartening," Mr Kirk said.
"...I want to draw attention to it because the wetlands is going through the same thing. We want people to report suspicious activity. It's about reinvigorating a Neighbourhood Watch mentality and working with police because vandalism is a cost to the community."
He formed the bushland reserve group in 2013 after he moved to the area. Over the ensuing five years, volunteers cleared 20 tonnes of dumped material including car parts, builders' waste, bricks and other items. They also removed 20 tonnes of garden waste, weeds and foreign vegetation.
Shelters, picnic areas and retaining walls have been built. Mr Kirk said the restoration had drawn environment groups, artists and families to the reserve.
"This is a pristine area of remnant bushland within easy access for our city population to enjoy all the natural elements. Surely we want to keep it that way," he said.
"Many of these incidents are reported to authorities but a lot aren't, or they find out well after the event. The police, council and fire brigade can't keep a constant eye on this area for us. Preservation of the bushland and minimisation of the risks to neighbouring properties are as much a community responsibility as an essential need."
He told The Post that when he was first elected to Goulburn Mulwaree Council in 2008, monthly vandalism costs to the organisation were about $3000 monthly. Now they were up to $6000.
Meantime, at Goulburn wetlands, in January vandals ripped off coating from a large sign depicting birds that frequent the area.
Friends of Goulburn Swamplands (FROGS) president, Heather West said the two metre by one-metre sign contained bird photos taken by ecologist Rod Falconer 10 years ago.
"It would cost a fortune to replace it and we wouldn't have the photos anymore," she said.
The intruders also tore a long length of wire cable from railings and uprooted star pickets used to identify trees. Mrs West said they threaded wire through the pickets and tied it to steel posts on the wetlands causeway, blocking access.
"It would have been dangerous for anyone walking their dogs. It was an incredible trip hazard," she said.
Goulburn Mulwaree Council staff quickly removed the contraption.
Mrs West said council warning signs had been removed in the past, trees planted by volunteers, uprooted, and bench seats bent.
"Disheartening is the word," she said.
"Is it being done by people who are bored? If so, come and help us rather than wrecking things for other people because it is the general public that's inconvenienced.
"It's not a good look for Goulburn. We get a lot of people coming to look at the wetlands and birds...The volunteers put in hours of work but sometimes it's a case of one step forward, two steps back."