Friends’ in­ter­est is en­joy­ment of trails

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Letters - Kevin Lange for Friends of the Cape to Cape Track

I re­fer to as­ser­tions re­port­edly made by Ray Swarts (Di­ver­sion call re­newed, 28/7): “the project’s ad­vo­cates were few and had vested in­ter­ests”.

There is, in fact, a large num­ber of ad­vo­cates for this trail.

The Friends of the Cape to Cape Track have been strongly ad­vo­cat­ing this project for more than five years. We have some 250 mem­bers.

Also, about 18,000 peo­ple use the track an­nu­ally and many of th­ese, though non-mem­bers, have pointed out both the haz­ardous na­ture of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, and their re­gret at hav­ing not been able to view this beau­ti­ful sec­tion of the world-renowned Mar­garet River.

There has been a sig­nif­i­cant sup­port base for this trail from MPs, gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, lo­cal gov­ern­ment and com­mu­nity mem­bers.

Yes, re­spon­si­ble tour op­er­a­tors, who are pas­sion­ate about pre­serv­ing all that is best of this re­gion, may also be ad­vo­cates for the trail, but we have not set out to can­vass their views.

We have not ral­lied sup­port­ers, de­vel­oped pe­ti­tions or stacked meet­ings.

Vested in­ter­est? Yes, we have a vested in­ter­est and that is to al­low lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike to en­joy this unique part of the world in an en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able fash­ion.

Des­ig­nated tracks, around the world, en­able the pub­lic to en­joy, ap­pre­ci­ate and value the en­vi­ron­ment, with no en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

It is un­rea­son­able to hope that the pub­lic will ap­pre­ci­ate and value the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment if they are pre­vented from ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it first-hand.

As for the Friends, the enor­mous amount of time spent mak­ing grant ap­pli­ca­tions, and at­tend­ing sev­eral plan­ning meet­ings with Shire staff has all been pro­vided vol­un­tar­ily.

The strip of land along the river is a pub­lic re­serve, vested in the Shire for “Re­cre­ation and Con­ser­va­tion”.

Peo­ple have ev­ery right to ac­cess this pub­lic re­serve and are do­ing so in in­creas­ing num­bers.

Un­for­tu­nately, where there is no des­ig­nated track, they can wan­der in an ad-hoc man­ner, po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing veg­e­ta­tion and habi­tats as they go.

A des­ig­nated track would rem­edy this sit­u­a­tion.

A track has been part of the coun­cil’s Cor­po­rate Plan since 2014. The Friends have been able to raise more than a quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars to fur­ther the project.

Th­ese funds were of­fered, in their en­tirety, to the Shire with no con­di­tions at­tached other than that they be used to build a world-class, safe and en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive track.

It is highly re­gret­table that, only a small por­tion of the funds have been spent ($68,000).

The process has been any­thing but rushed: plan­ning and gain­ing ap­provals be­gan at least as early as 2014.

How­ever, the $50,000 the Shire con­trib­uted, and the money that has been spent, has en­abled all but 200m of the di­ver­sion trail to be built.

Apart from that 200m sec­tion, the track can be, and is be­ing, used by the pub­lic.

How­ever, if walk­ers are go­ing to trans­verse the 200m melaleuca grove, with­out dam­ag­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, then at cer­tain times of the year a board­walk is re­quired, or pri­vate land ac­quired, to di­vert the align­ment around the grove.

The rest of the funds raised by the Friends would also have cov­ered the cost of the board­walk but due to the de­lays mainly from coun­cil ac­tion, we have not been able to meet the ac­quit­tal date re­quire­ments and th­ese un­spent funds (about $161,000) will now have to be re­lin­quished.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.