Bushwalking Tracks and Conservation (BTAC)

Over the past 10 months, BTAC has settled into the expanded role inherited from its predecessor, the Bushwalking Environment Committee (BEC).

The entire suite of policies relating to conservation and bushwalking amenities has been reviewed, updated and published as four policy documents on the Bushwalking Victoria website:

  • Conservation - covering conservation and related land management issues
  • Bushwalking Infrastructure - covering tracks and trails, camping, huts, signage, information etc
  • Commercial Activities in Protected Areas - covering commercial infrastructure, facilities and impacts, in protected areas such as national parks, state parks and other reserves
  • Other Recreational User Groups - covering our relationship with other significant users of protected areas.

We began a new newsletter, On the Tracks, to cover BTAC activities and associated areas of interest. If you would like to subscribe to On the Tracks, email Bushwalking Victoria's Office Manager at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

BTAC has also begun updating information for potential volunteers, and is putting together training material for project managers, crew leaders, field officers and volunteers.

Over the past 12 months, BTAC volunteers have made a very large contribution to track maintenance and other activities. As at 30 June 2014, BTAC volunteers had put in 884 hours of labour. In addition, individual clubs and Bushwalking Victoria members put in at least 1000 hours of work. At Parks Victoria's standard rate for volunteer work, this represents over $61,000 worth of effort. If you would like to register as a volunteer for track and conservation activities, email Charlie Ablitt, the BTAC Projects Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We are aware that many clubs are putting in volunteer effort that we don't know about. But we want to know about it! We would like to be able to demonstrate the value of our efforts accurately and completely to DEPI and Parks Victoria, so we ask that you let Megan Major, the BTAC Convener (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), know about any work that you are doing. She will want to know the date, the number of volunteers, the time spent and the location (track or park as appropriate) of your work. This information will help increase our credibility with land managers and will also help us in the many submissions we make on behalf of the bushwalking community.

Adopt a Track

Quite a few clubs are now participating in the Adopt a Track Program. Some have a long and honourable history of track work; some are new to this role. All work activities associated with the Adopt a Track Program is planned with the relevant land manager and is supervised by the land manager.

I would like to encourage as many clubs as possible to consider how they can help by adopting a track in your local area or a track that your club has a connection with. If your club doesn't feel it can do it alone, BTAC can help partner you with another club that would like help. Contact Charlie Ablitt, the Bushwalking Tracks and Conservation Projects Coordinator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to let him know you'd like to become involved. He can put you in touch with the relevant Parks Victoria ranger. Adopting a track can be fun as well as a great way of contributing to the effort that goes into providing the bushwalking tracks and trails we all enjoy.

See also the article Adopting a Track in this newsletter.

Leadership Training

We have now completed the first bushwalking leadership course. It has been delivered twice, to a total of 38 current and prospective leaders, and the third course in September is close to being booked out.

Obviously this course is addressing a real need. The course is being prepared to be put up on the website for use by any club. Next month's Bushwalking News Victoria will contain information about how to access the course material, and help we can offer to assist any club in delivering the course themselves.

It has become clear from feedback and discussion that we need to consider a more advanced course to cover pack-carries, base camps and the more challenging leadership situations. We have managed to secure an extension to our existing grant from Sport and Recreation Victoria (SRV) to allow us to create this course. The team that built the initial course is about to start work again. If you think you can help, or have material you or your club could contribute, please contact Sally Walker (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Minister's Stakeholder Forum

Charlie Ablitt and I attended the Minister for Sport and Recreation's stakeholder forum at the MCG on 27 August. It was an interesting morning, focussed on two main topics:

  • Women in sport and active recreation
  • Integrity in sport (and active recreation).

My initial reaction was that these topics had very little bearing on bushwalking.

It's difficult to get a clear figure, but my belief is that over half of our club members are women, so participation of women certainly isn't an issue. We also have a large number of women on club committees, and many women have been or are club presidents. Despite this, I have the impression that women are underrepresented on many club committees; they are certainly underrepresented on the Bushwalking Victoria board - currently only 2 of our 8 board members are women. So we still have some work to do at this level. I certainly was able to state at the forum discussions that we have many extremely competent and dynamic female event leaders at all levels of walk difficulty. Overall, I think bushwalking is ahead of the curve.

On the issue of integrity, I was able to state with confidence, that doping, match-fixing and illegal betting are not major problems in the bushwalking world. Considerations of and need for financial integrity and governance (such as membership equity and fairness to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups) apply to bushwalking clubs as much as to other clubs.

Alpine National Parks Draft Management Plan

We have made our submission on this very important topic - you can download a copy from the Bushwalking Victoria website at http://www.bushwalkingvictoria.org.au/files/Submissions/2014_08_14_Greater_Alpine_National_Parks_Draft_Management_Plantw.pdf.

Charlie Ablitt and I attended a meeting of the Alpine Advisory Committee at their invitation prior to completing our submission, so we had a chance to put directly some of the issues that concern bushwalkers. It is very clear that feral horses have become a major problem in the alpine area; and at the meeting we emphasised the damage that they are causing. We also reaffirmed our opposition to the return of cattle to the high country; and at the meeting we emphasised the need for careful management of commercial activities in such a sensitive and vulnerable area.

One proposal in the Draft Management Plan that Bushwalking Victoria does strongly endorse is the need for all trail user groups to be involved in drafting a 'code of shared use'. Any plan for shared use needs to clearly address where track sharing is and is not desirable, as well as appropriate signage, usage, conventions etc. Bushwalking Victoria believes that a protocol for track usage, including shared use needs to be in place state-wide, with the endorsement of all major trail user groups, and we have approached Outdoors Victoria on this subject.

See you on the track.
Tony Walker
President, Bushwalking Victoria

Editor's note: Last month Tony referred to Victoria's Trails Strategy, 2014-24. This is now loaded to the Bushwalking Victoria website at http://www.bushwalkingvictoria.org.au/files/Submissions/Victorias_Trails_Strategy_2014-2024.pdf.

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Current Campaigns

Bushwalking Victoria's advocacy efforts aim to proactively influence decisions that impact on bushwalking and bushwalkers in Victoria, by engaging with key decision makers and land managers such as Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)to ensure that bushwalking issues and opportunities are understood and considered when policies and decisions are made that impact on the bushwalking community in Victoria.

Below is a list of campaigns that we encourage you to join:

 


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