New road - good or bad for skiers?

Mt Buller News - - FRONT PAGE - By PETER HUNT

THE ar­gu­ments around the pro­posed link road to be built be­tween Mt Buller and Mt Stir­ling have raised some is­sues from skiers who use the area.

One per­son op­pos­ing the con­cept of the road as­sist­ing cross coun­try skiing is Charles Street.

Mr Street has been a keen cross coun­try (XC) skier, bush­walker and a cam­paigner for the con­ser­va­tion of Mt Stir­ling for more than 20 years.

He was also a mem­ber of the Mt Buller and Mt Stir­ling Alpine Re­sort Man­age­ment Board (ARMB) from 2004 to 2006.

His more than 35 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence as a XC skier has in­cluded be­ing a mem­ber of the Mans­field Nordic Ski Club dur­ing the 1990s, sec­re­tary of Ski Cross Coun­try Vic­to­ria from 2002 to 2011 and a XC Ski Rac­ing Tech­ni­cal Del­e­gate - Level 3 un­der Fed­er­a­tion In­ter­na­tional de Ski rules.

It has been quoted that, “the Link Road will be a Nordic ski trail in win­ter”.

The Link Road has been de­signed for buses, ac­cord­ing to Mr Street - “in a few years’ time, skiers will be jump­ing out of the way of buses”.

“XC skiers need more than 25cm of con­tin­u­ous snow - we will not get this on the north side,” he said.

“The top of the Link Road is 1520 me­tres al­ti­tude, while the bot­tom is at 1405m.

“There will be lit­tle and ever-di­min­ish­ing snow falls in this al­ti­tude range, as ev­i­denced in the CSIRO re­port ‘Cli­mate change im­pacts on snow in Vic­to­ria’ by Jonas Bhend, Jan­ice Bathols and Kevin Hen­nessy.”

Mr Street added that as an XC ski trail, the Link Road will be the fail­ure that it was de­signed to be.

“The Link Road is to be built on the north­ern (sunny) side of Corn­hill and any snow­fall there will melt dur­ing sunny con­di­tions,” Mr Street ex­plained.

“Also, dumps of snow come from the south­west, so south­ern slopes re­ceive more snow and a road on the north­ern slopes will re­ceive less.”

Mr Street is also con­cerned about the loss of Mount Stir­ling as an XC ski des­ti­na­tion.

“The pro­posed road is a ‘road to nowhere’, un­less the ARMB in­tends to con­vert Mt Stir­ling into ‘some­where’,” he said.

“If ac­com­mo­da­tion and re­lated in­fra­struc­ture are built on Stir­ling, the XC ski trails will be­come road­ways for ve­hi­cle ac­cess, eg 4WD taxis, sup­ply trucks and main­te­nance ve­hi­cles.

“The trails will quickly be­come un­ski­able and XC skiers will be­come un­wel­come.”

Lo­cal phar­ma­cist and pro­lific XC skier, John Eis­ner, has a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

“While I agree with a lot of Mr Street’s points, if the al­ter­na­tive to the pro­posed north­ern road is to up­grade the ex­ist­ing south side road, that would be a dis­as­ter,” he said.

“The road on the south side of Corn­hill is cur­rently used by XC skiers as ac­cess for the Corn­hill trails.

“Also the first part of the road from Horse Hill is cur­rently where the dog sleds op­er­ate.”

Mr Eis­ner sees any up­grade as interfering with XC skiing rather than aid­ing it.

“Clear­ing an up­graded south­ern road and hav­ing to share it with ve­hi­cles will ruin the XC ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

“As it is, not enough skiers make use of the area now.

“What is more im­por­tant in all these dis­cus­sions is the agenda for Mt Stir­ling.”

Mr Eis­ner added that the fu­ture of skiing at Mt Stir­ling needs to have a plan, and part of that plan has to be keep­ing Mt Stir­ling nat­u­ral.

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