Author Topic: Northshore Trail Closures  (Read 3819 times)

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Offline ctguru

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Northshore Trail Closures
« on: April 02, 2017, 01:37:46 PM »
riding Northshore today and noticed Parks have closed a trail that has been there and used for over 20 years

Just wondering is it possible to lobby Parks to make the trail 'legal'.

This trail is essentially a link trail with nothing silly on it and there would have been no trail building, the trail has just formed from people riding it for the last 20 years

Interest to hear the Forum's thought's

Offline Alistair

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2017, 06:59:00 PM »
It would be good if we could lobby for these tracks, because we all know how this is going to go now.....

Offline ctguru

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 12:07:27 PM »
Sent a letter to Parks, interesting to see if I get a response


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Offline ctguru

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2017, 07:07:10 PM »
Got a response


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Offline alf

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2017, 10:30:42 AM »
Got a response


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Would be interested in hearing about the contents of the response.

Offline ctguru

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2017, 10:39:05 AM »
Got a response


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Would be interested in hearing about the contents of the response.

Essentially all mountain biking off fire trails in the northern expansion is banned, I'll copy email response as soon as I find it


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Offline ctguru

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2017, 10:41:56 AM »
reply from Parks, they don't want ANY Northshore MTB trails:



Thanks for making contact with Parks Victoria regarding Mountain Bike trails.
Lysterfield Park is home to approximately 20km of trails designated for mountain bike use including the 6.3km State Mountain Bike Course - home of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games cross country mountain bike competition.

Parks Victoria together with the Mountain Bike Association of Australia have carefully designed trail alignments to protect environmental values of the park, whilst providing a high quality mountain biking experience. The trail system has been designed for sustainable long term use. Trails are designed and maintained to the International Mountain Bike Association standard to ensure the trails are as safe as possible.

Parks Victoria is working toward closure of all unauthorised Mountain Bike Trails in Lysterfield Park and Churchill National Park. Parks Victoria is working, with the Lysterfield District Trail Riders (LDTR) to maintain the existing authorised trail network, as indicated by formal signage, to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all riders. Last year LDTR and Parks Victoria joined together to fund an upgrade of the formal trail network to ensure the trails are maintained to that IMBA standard. This included improved trail features to enhance the riders experience.

Lysterfield Park is home to a rich Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. Creating and using unauthorised trails can potentially damage or destroy Aboriginal artefacts and sites. The area to the North of Wellington Road, known as the North East Extension, contains known areas of Indigenous Cultural Heritage. Construction and use of unauthorised trails can impact on these important Heritage sites.

Unauthorised trails also represent a significant risk to riders as features such as jumps, berms or boardwalks are not constructed to safe and appropriate standards, and represent a substantial hazard. These trails are also not audited and maintained.

Tracks that are constructed by park users that are not authorised and consistent with the park management plan can threaten the health and biodiversity of our bushland by acting as corridors for the invasion of weeds and pest animals, and can cause erosion.

Parks Victoria will continue to work to maintain the existing trail network to a high standard. We will not be authorising trails in the North East Extension.

Thanks again for your enquiry and I hope you continue to enjoy the use of the extensive authorised trail network.


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Offline doversby (Daz)

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2017, 05:04:41 PM »
Geez - i love the inference they have been responsible for trail maintenance in the park.

Offline Alistair

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2017, 07:08:37 PM »
Heres what PV's Guidelines for MTB on Public Lands dcoument says:

3.2 Closure of inappropriate or unsafe mountain bike tracks
Mountain bike tracks may be closed permanently or temporarily.  DSE and PV have procedures to guide staff on the process for closing tracks once a decision has been made and approved to do so.  Common examples where mountain bike tracks may be closed include:
•   Following completion of a Strategic Assessment and a ‘close’ recommendation being approved;
•   Following completion of a risk assessment, where it has identified that an unacceptable risk cannot be addressed;
•   Following weather events (eg storm, flood, fire);
•   Following advice of a severe weather warning (eg Total Fire Ban day, rainfall, wind gusts);
•   Seasonal or permanent closures (eg sites susceptible to Phytophthora cinnamomi, areas with high rainfall and poorly draining soils); and
•   Unacceptable environmental damage has occurred, caused by over-use or inappropriate use.

Public land managers should ensure a Strategic Assessment is completed and a recommendation to close is approved before permanently closing mountain bike tracks.  This will support a transparent and consistent process being followed across the state.  A range of issues should be considered when closing a mountain bike track, including:
•   Are revegetation works required?
•   How will access to tracks be blocked to discourage riders?
•   Is continued use a real possibility?  It can become resource intensive for public land managers to monitor and undertake compliance.
•   Timing – when is a good time to close a track?  How long will it be closed for?  Will it be an annual occurrence?
•   Communication with users – this should include information about why the track is being closed, for how long and informing and promoting other tracks that are nearby (if applicable).  Information and education must be sustained to ensure users are aware of, and respect, the track closure.

It is important to keep in mind that unauthorised mountain bike tracks may continue to be constructed and used by riders, even if they are closed by public land managers.  Current use often indicates there is a demand for mountain biking in the area.  One of the best ways to ensure that a closed track will remain closed is to create a more attractive replacement and/or engage with mountain bikers about the reasons for closure.  Public land managers should engage with local riders and/or groups and discuss with them the reasons for closure and work together to create a replacement or identify the nearest authorised track riders can use.  Working with groups can help to solve a variety of what may currently be seen as management issues.

Offline CKaos

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2017, 07:10:32 PM »
Good advice! So the rule book raises many points for discussion.

•   Following completion of a Strategic Assessment and a ‘close’ recommendation being approved;
•   Following completion of a risk assessment, where it has identified that an unacceptable risk cannot be addressed;


Public land managers should ensure a Strategic Assessment is completed and a recommendation to close is approved before permanently closing mountain bike tracks.
Is there evidence that this occurs - if so, where's the communication of this?

•   Unacceptable environmental damage has occurred, caused by over-use or inappropriate use.
So, if this is a reason to close MTB trails, surely it is also a reason to keep them open?  The volume of trail use experienced together with the type of soil we have to build trails on at Lysterfield means that normal use is overuse in many situations.  Public Land Managers should use an equation that considers usage volumes to calculate how many meters of trail they require to maintain a sustainable network.  Simplistically, if a park with 50,000 users per year needs 20km of trail to avoid overuse, then a park with 100,000 user would need 40km of trail.   

•   Is continued use a real possibility?  It can become resource intensive for public land managers to monitor and undertake compliance.
Not really the trail users problem, but surely this should feature strongly in the 'Strategic Assessment'.

•   Communication with users – this should include information about why the track is being closed, for how long and informing and promoting other tracks that are nearby (if applicable).  Information and education must be sustained to ensure users are aware of, and respect, the track closure.
Once again, are PV complying with this requirement?

Current use often indicates there is a demand for mountain biking in the area.  One of the best ways to ensure that a closed track will remain closed is to create a more attractive replacement and/or engage with mountain bikers about the reasons for closure.  Public land managers should engage with local riders and/or groups and discuss with them the reasons for closure and work together to create a replacement or identify the nearest authorised track riders can use. 
I can see that the PV response is aligned with this portion of the MTB policy. A major issue that faces PV in relation to MTB use at Lysterfield is how to safely manage the large rider numbers (& walkers & pram pushers these days) that all want to access the trails at the same time. Are local riders and groups being adequately represented in these considerations? Have PV presented users with plans for proposed expansion of a sanctioned trail network, rather than just saying - "can't go there, a frog lived there once", "can't go there, it rains there".  They need to identify what areas are ok and take the lead in planning for a more sustainable trail network, not just come up with a variety of excuses of why that area is not ok!!!

One suggestion (I assume from PV?) to make the trails safer is to make the trails at Lysterfield one way.  This would effectively cut the trail network from about 40km to 25km in a qualitative sense and only add to 'demand'.  Surely the presence and maintenance of 'out of the way trails' provides opportunity to move experienced riders from areas normally frequented by occasional / beginner / family riders to an area where little or no conflict will exist. That's when the unauthorized trails get used - when the popular trails are overrun. Much of the conflict that exist between the 'Northern trails' and policy only exists because PV refuse to acknowledge and 'manage' the trails.

On one hand, LDTR struggles to get sufficient resource to maintain the main trail network, so why would we want any more? On the other hand, a lot of work goes into closing and opening the 'unauthorized' trails on a regular basis, which is resource absolutely wasted.  If this was redirected into the management of an extended trail network that satisfied the needs of a greater range of park users we would be miles in front of where we are now.

Working with groups can help to solve a variety of what may currently be seen as management issues.


Cheers CK

Offline Alistair

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2017, 11:51:35 AM »
Unfortunately it's not a rule book as such, but there's some good ideas in there as to how to move ahead constructively in situations such as these.

Offline Cranker

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2017, 03:22:16 PM »
Lysterfield Park is home to a rich Aboriginal Cultural Heritage? So what happened to those rich heritage & sensitive environmental areas when the big bulldozers and tree lopping machines went through and demolished everything at the beginning of 2016?
When I go, I want to go peacefully like my grandpa!.......not kicking and screaming like the passengers in his car!

Offline Alistair

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2017, 10:49:25 AM »
So yes, theres a few things that need to be said on this and no-one wants to say them. For me LDTR always was a grass roots trail advocacy organization, I personally feel I've earnt my turns on both the trail building volunteering and the official aspects of it too, sitting in meetings working with PV to try and come up with a mutually agreeable approach to various issues. People might like to remember that lysterfield would have no trails at all today, had there not been unofficial trails to start with  - some of which were subsequently legitimized and others of which were closed through a  process of negotiation. It was this very process that PV subsequently enshrined in their Guidelines for MTB on Public Lands document in 2012(ish). Unfortunately what we have in the north of the park is a very different approach. The warning signs posted around the park are about as generic as it comes, almost a copy and paste response that are devoid of specifics. So lets look at whats really been going on:

Aboriginal Heritage should obviously be respected and is protected by law. Heres a few points though:
- Guess what, theres aboriginal heritage sites in the main park. Some of the MTB and walking trails go right past them, I only know this because of historical trail builds. Based on this, wellington road looks like a very arbitrary divider for discretionary application of laws.
- PV are paying contractors $3000 a day to trash the trails. These guys are regular tradies just doing their job, chainsaw mattocks and power equipment used. Theres no aboriginal spotters helping them identify any artefacts, trees have been felled, rock formations destroyed and bulldozers driven through the bush. Aboriginal historical sites are hard to spot, but you have to ask whether they would be allowed to do this over specifically identified sites?

Environmental Issues
Harder to call this one, especially since no specifics have been given about particular flora or fauna under threat from MTB and walking trails in the north of the park. Suffice to say that around 80% of the current trails have been around for 10 years or more with quite limited impact on the surroundings, certainly less than the 4WD management tracks and in stark contrast to the habitat destruction over the past weeks. Further, some trails are actually in areas of the lowest environmental value according to PV's own overlays.

Safety
There's probably a sliding scale here and I can understand some concern from the authorities, but we're not talking about kids kicking dirt over pallets into massive doubles here.  2 of the tracks in particular have precisely ZERO features on  them whatsoever, they are just connecting tracks that allow people to unwind in the bush and have a relaxing cycle. Using these tracks as an example, I personally have difficulty with the whole safety argument.

LDTR was about advocacy for the whole park, I never signed up to anything that said that stopped at Wellington rd. There are enough examples above for people to question what's being done here and the real motivations for it. I would also really prefer it if the massive amount of money that PV are pouring into this action could be better spent more constructively, its really disappointing that we gave them a lot of money raised last year to help rebuild the comm games descent and they seem to be spending an equivalent on shutting down trails elsewhere without any attempt to move forward constructively in the way that their own guidelines and IMBA recommend.

Lastly, interesting to see the Park Management Plan reference in PV reply, everyone should know that it was written in 1998.  :D



Offline Andrew

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2017, 03:18:00 PM »
Agreed 100% Al.

Question is... What is next?

Offline CKaos

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Re: Northshore Trail Closures
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2017, 04:44:05 PM »
Wise words Alistair,

Whilst this discussion arose from the ongoing 'North Shore' saga, it has raised issues that will need to be addressed one day soon for MTBing to continue in a sustainable fashion.  These issues aren't unique to Lystie, and minds sharper than ours are tirelessly working on equivalent concepts in this, and other pockets of the planet.

Part of the way we attack these hurdles is to ensure each MTBer is counted as a voice. Being a member of a rider advocacy group is a great place to start. 

Making a financial commitment each year to such a group is the 1st step in gaining leverage when it comes to the LDTR committee lobbying the statutory authorities.  When you are dealing with a publicly funded department, the more 'public' you can demonstrate that you have behind you, the louder your voice.

The money also provides funding for nifty little gadgets like trail counters and associated technology that LDTR can generate data to use to further support our case for improved access to public land. Another thing a financially sound club can provide is tools, equipment and materials to perform trail maintenance and the gear we need to run events.

With this in mind, the next most important thing we can do is show up to a trail build day and have our name recorded on Nate's day sheet.  This is not just an opportunity for us to scratch around a bit and fix that puddle that has been shitting us for a few weeks now. Whilst getting shown how to drain a trail without creating a bigger mess than we started with is also great, the most valuable part of this contribution is the leverage it provides to our representatives when they arrive at the table to lobby.  Among the biggest currencies, when it comes to gaining the attention of bureaucrats, are volunteer hours spent and training provided to us plebs. And everyone wearing the same cool T shirt!!

Support events! Once again, events create solid statistics and show bureaucrats that their public land is being used for public engagement, and in our case, public health. Well that could be a stretch if you count the amount of A & E presentations that arise from an event?? Anyway, another big source of leverage.

We aren't going to solve the problems of the world here, but we can discuss them, share ideas and all get on the same page as group - so that must bring us a little closer to MTB Nirvana.

What we can do this week is make sure that each of us, and all of our riding mates, join an advocacy group to be counted.

CK

So   

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