Ben Boyd Light to Light restrictions and Privatisation pendi

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Ben Boyd Light to Light restrictions and Privatisation pendi

Postby johnrs » Mon 05 Aug, 2019 6:24 pm

Folks
here is another one.
A plan to reduce backpack accessible camping in favour of private facilities.
There does not seem to have been much consultation,
From our colleagues in recreational fishing who are also affected.

Ben Boyd National Park – Light to Light walking Track Proposal affects rec fishing access

Following a recent meeting with NPWS, advice was received that there will be restrictions on the current ‘back pack” camping areas that currently apply in our most southern NSW National Park, Ben Boyd.

NPWS have a plan or strategy on their website and submissions close at the end of the month.

In a nut shell, the NPWS budget has been reduced over a number of years and I understand staff numbers are down – clearly this creates on-ground supervision and management issues. It would seem to assist with this problem “back pack” camping will be removed from sections of the National Park thus reducing workload for rangers.

It has been reported that rubbish is being left around at some camping sites, there are too many fire scars and unpleasant droppings are not being buried, so access for camping will not continue in some areas.

There is no proposal to solve these issues simply by restricting fires to provided fire pits or the provision of compost toilets. HOWEVER there is a plan to provide a helipad and up-market cabins which could be quite acceptable to those who can afford it and don’t like camping.

But why restrict historic public access and prevent the wilderness or “back pack” camping to some areas of the park? The answer to that is, as usual, connected to money and protecting those who will make a profit from the plans.

It seems the operation of up-market cabins will be outsourced and managed by private organisations. An alternative proposal is needed and needs community discussion. The last thing that should happen is the local business goes out backwards because of the loss of regular visiting campers!

The two locations currently used for caravans and camper trailers will remain but will be restricted to smallish vans. The camping preference is very popular, especially in warmer months when recreational fishers (and other community groups) go camping under the stars, away from the TV, with mate or family members.

A common activity is walking for some distance, finding a good ledge/fishing spot and camping close to that spot overnight. Then moving on and repeating the same healthy activity for a number of days.

NPWS confirmed they did not consult DPI Fisheries to discuss the impacts of the proposed strategy would have on recreational fishing. Communication between the two agencies has been pathetic for decades even though the Advisory Council and DPI Fisheries have tried on a number of occasions to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies.

NPWS confirmed they only spoke to two groups – Council and the Aboriginal Land Council. That does not sound like good public consultation.This Facebook page is worth following to understand other issues.

So in summary we see “Access” again being the number one problem with NPWS in regard to fishing. And on this occasion it has an impact on numerous other community groups who visit the park for their own interests, whether it be bird watching, photography, examining wild flowers, etc.

There is no indication of a review of the proposal after comments have been received from the community.

Deadline for submissions is 26 August. Submissions by groups/organisations/clubs/social clubs and the like should indicate how many people your organisation represents. Please get you submissions in on time. There are another eight
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Re: Ben Boyd Light to Light restrictions and Privatisation p

Postby north-north-west » Tue 06 Aug, 2019 11:07 am

So the people who least need infrastructure will be restricted while the heavy resource users are welcomed in, complete with red carpet and champagne. Whatever happened to the "National Parks are for all" mantra?
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Re: Ben Boyd Light to Light restrictions and Privatisation p

Postby johnw » Tue 06 Aug, 2019 8:02 pm

north-north-west wrote:So the people who least need infrastructure will be restricted while the heavy resource users are welcomed in, complete with red carpet and champagne. Whatever happened to the "National Parks are for all" mantra?

As we all know this crap is now happening Australia-wide and with ever increasing frequency due to several out of control feral state governments. And a national disgrace in the view of most of us who value the concept of keeping wild places wild, and the amenity of passive, low impact, self-reliant recreation.
John W

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Re: Ben Boyd Light to Light restrictions and Privatisation p

Postby Max Winning » Wed 07 Aug, 2019 6:25 pm

I have drafted the following submission, but I would appreciate hearing the opinion of other concerned people, before I finalise the wording. (Apologies for the long read!)


The National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Draft Light to Light Walk Strategy, should raise concern among Eden’s tourist industry and lovers of nature, because it diverts tourist dollars out of town and risks damaging the unspoilt charm of the National Park, which is the reason for undertaking the Walk and why the walk has the potential to be among the best in Australia.

The NSW Government’s $7.9 million funding for regional growth is a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on the value of the National Park and boost the local tourism industry.

However, the strategy makes a key assumption that should be questioned; that the best way to deliver regional economic benefit from the Walk, is by providing accommodation services on-site, at the National Park, thereby ignoring the option of providing accommodation off-site in under-utilised infrastructure in Eden.

This strategy expects a visitor will spend four days undertaking the Light to Light Walk, accommodated in the National Park, in huts with food provided. It suggests tourists might spend a night in Eden pre and post walk, but that may not occur, because tour operators may take visitors straight to the accommodation in the Park. In any case, Eden will lose many valuable ‘visitor nights’ whilst NPWS takes the profit.

The strategy skips over an option to gain accreditation as a ‘Great Walk of Australia,’ by providing off-park accommodation. Accreditation could be achieved now if NPWS partnered with a private tour operator that can provide a luxury experience, including guides and high-quality accommodation.

Alternatively, the Light to Light Walk could be offered as day walks with accommodation in Eden, transported to the walks daily, provided by Eden based operators with food and guides laid on, then come back to town to get a bed and food, with flow on economic benefits to Eden that the proposed strategy can’t offer. There are already at least two operators providing this option.

The far south coast tourist industry suffers from low visitor numbers out of season, despite there being an abundance of natural beauty on offer. The shortage is in demand. Funding to improve options for tourists to book a trip and to provide basic infrastructure and support for pleasant tourist transfers, would make it easier.

The strategy turns the NPWS into a developer with a financial incentive to damage the natural beauty and environment. Yet it will retain little risk because the development is funded by tax payers and if the operation fails, NPWS can sell a licence to a private operator or leave it empty. The strategy doesn’t provide a business case to support the proposed management model and there is no discussion about the risks that would flow from a potential business failure, although the strategy assumes an optimistic 36 persons per night and high running costs, that include three on-site managers.

The Walk is a great experience that could be enhanced and capitalised, but that should be done without damaging the National Park. This strategy provides very little guidance about how the conservation values of the National Park are being prioritised and omits any reference to the environmental impacts. The increased development will damage the National Park and the Walk experience.

The National Park has existing access facilities at Bittangabee Bay and Saltwater Creek. These locations are nicely spaced to facilitate a variety of easy to medium difficulty walks, with opportunities to transform the way visitors interact with the Walk, by improving access for people who are less able or time poor and interactive learning opportunities. Some of the funding could be invested directly to the Light-to-Light Walk, especially to undertake the proposed track upgrades and to improve the amenity, sustainability and increase access options to beaches and points of interest.

The strategy proposes significant clearing and development of pristine parts of the National Park for new hut sites, in two of the most unique and beautiful sections of coast line, but there is no argument for why these are required to meet either the funding objectives, the Park’s objectives or demand.

The strategy proposes development of huts around Hegartys Bay, which will also require a substantial upgrade to access tracks, that aren’t mentioned. The area has qualities that make it so unique that it should never be disturbed, including aboriginal heritage, a bay with spectacular rock colours and forms, a steady fresh water stream, wet land and forest.

The strategy also proposes huts for Mowarry Point, which would convert an unspoilt beach with heritage values into a beach side camping resort.

The current use of Hegartys Bay and Mowarry Point with uncontrolled camping is not sustainable so diverting human activity to improved facilities at other, existing facilities at Bittangabee Bay and Saltwater Creek is a better option.

It is also proposed to develop outside the existing Light House Keeper’s compound, but there is no reason given for risking the heritage values of the site.

The strategy proposes restricted access to the new huts, by booking the complete walk experience and excludes other users to remain at the existing camp sites. This would establish an ‘us and them’ divide between park users and would attract criticism that ‘glamping’ was being commercialised by NPWS, to advantage the privileged few.

An alternative is to use the funding to develop options for off-site accommodation and improve existing National Park facilities, especially aimed at boosting access options and controlling human impact. Easy day walks without packs can be managed from existing access points, especially if a drop-off and pick-up service is provided out of Eden. This would provide greater economic opportunity for Eden and surrounds and protect the environment.

This strategy fails to meet the interests of the people of Eden, is a poor response to the funding objectives and will damage the environment, so I recommend it be rejected.
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Re: Ben Boyd Light to Light restrictions and Privatisation p

Postby johnw » Thu 08 Aug, 2019 8:15 pm

Max Winning wrote:I have drafted the following submission, but I would appreciate hearing the opinion of other concerned people, before I finalise the wording. (Apologies for the long read!)

It's a very well crafted and compelling submission. I probably wouldn't tweak it too much. Maybe just further highlight the inherent unfairness to independent (not wealthy) walkers who simply want a self reliant experience without restrictions or fees. They are our National Parks after all. I've yet to do this walk, but I put it on my bucket list on a visit to Boyds Tower when in Eden several years ago. I will aim to do it in the near future in case the worst happens and this crap proposal gets up.
John W

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Re: Ben Boyd Light to Light restrictions and Privatisation p

Postby Max Winning » Thu 08 Aug, 2019 8:23 pm

Thanks for the feedback John. I will take your advice and add a note in support of independent walkers. Its worth the trip anytime you can get there!
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Re: Ben Boyd Light to Light restrictions and Privatisation p

Postby Ms_Mudd » Sat 10 Aug, 2019 1:59 pm

Will write a submission also.
Just sad more than outraged.
I walk because on a whim, regardless of how much money I have left after paying bills, I can head on off and have the most wonderful time. National Parks are for enjoying, not commercial enterprise :-(
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Re: Ben Boyd Light to Light restrictions and Privatisation p

Postby Max Winning » Mon 12 Aug, 2019 8:42 am

There is a good chance to prevent this now, if the community response is a loud and resounding NO! Please spread the word and encourage others to make submissions
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