A reopening of four-wheel-drive tracks in the North-West represents a serious barrier to reconciliation between the state’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, the Wilderness Society says.
The government last month referred a proposal to reopen three tracks in the Arthur-Pieman region to the federal Environment Department for approval.
The 37.3 kilometres of track south of Sandy Cape and north of the Pieman River will requite significant work over 4.6 kilometres.
This includes three kilometres of fencing, 2.26 kilometres of plastic surface protection panels, and signage.
Submissions on the proposal closed on Tuesday.
Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said the referral was politically motivated and not in the public interest.
"The project would have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of Tasmania's Aboriginal community, and is already creating signicificant angst (and) anxiety,” he said.
Mr Bayley said the government had relied on heritage surveys and reports dating from before 2012 which were used to justify closing the tracks.
In the organisation’s submission, it is argued that the government’s planned construction work to protect heritage values will actually damage them.
4WD Tasmania president Brian Hevey said recreational drivers supported the concept of Aboriginal rangers managing the area if the tracks were reopened.
“We’ve always held the position that the area simply requires proper management,” he said.
“We are hoping for a reasonable and fair position.”
Mr Hevey said the closure had prevented access to shacks and fishing spots.
The Environmental Defenders Office made a submission on behalf of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation.
Principal lawyer Jess Feehley said the organisation was concerned that reopened tracks could led to cultural heritage materials being crushed, recorded and unrecorded heritage sites being disrupted, and cultural artefacts being stolen or vandalised.
She said there had been inadequate consultation with the Aboriginal community on the proposal.
“The referral states that (the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service) “continues to liaise with affected stakeholders”,” Ms Feehley said.
“However, despite TAC’s clear interest in this issue, as evidenced by their legal proceedings and publicly stated position on the tracks, they were not consulted regarding the proposed mitigation works prior to the referral being made.”