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.
BTAC has also begun updating information for potential volunteers, and is putting together training material for project managers, crew leaders, field officers and volunteers.
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.
See also the article Adopting a Track in this newsletter.
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.
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.
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.