The Government is to provide a grant of $700,000 from the Community Conservation Partnership Fund to tramping, hunting and mountain biking clubs for 107 back country projects, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced tonight at the Nelson Tramping Club’s AGM.
“This exciting new partnership between outdoor recreation clubs and the Department of Conservation is about maintaining and enhancing backcountry huts and trails. These facilities are important for New Zealanders who want to get beyond popular tourist tracks but the usage of which is low and are only marginally economic to maintain,” Dr Smith says.
“We have some huts that have 20 or fewer nights’ usage per year but with maintenance and inspection, cost $4000 per year. A far better option than removing these huts is to partner with outdoor clubs who value these remote experiences and are prepared to help maintain them. I also expect as clubs become aware of these facilities that their usage will also increase.”
The 107 projects include maintaining 36 backcountry huts, 670 kilometres of track and involve 10,000 hours of voluntary commitment. The consortium includes the Federated Mountain Clubs with 17,000 trampers, the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association with 10,000 hunters, and the Trail Fund with 8000 mountain bikers.
“This $700,000 contract is a new way of maintaining low-use back country facilities but is likely to be expanded as DOC builds this new partnership with outdoor recreation groups. It is part of the new direction of DOC to work more with communities and businesses. These clubs will do a great job, their members will get a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction from their work and taxpayers get great value for money in looking after these more remote tracks and huts,” Dr Smith says.
The Community Conservation Partnership Fund was announced in March this year and provides $26 million over the next four years to community organisations undertaking natural heritage and recreation projects. The Fund will support hundreds of projects on public and private land.
“My ambition with this DOC partnership with tramping, hunting and mountain biking clubs is to get more New Zealanders enjoying and involved in the great outdoors. We need to change the culture from it being DOC land to it being public conservation land in which as many New Zealanders as possible get out, get involved and connect with their country,” Dr Smith concluded