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IMPORTANT!!! Springwood Meeting with NPWS to Discuss Draft MTB Strategy Tues 5th October

moggio's picture

By moggio - Posted on 22 September 2010

A very important meeting to attend with the NPWS about trails in National Parks. We need a large number of people to call up and register.

Tuesday 5th October 6-8pm at the Springwood Country Club, Hawkesbury Rd Springwood.

Please RSVP to 4784 7300 or

The Brown Hornet's picture

I'm assuming that this meeting will not only have supporters of trails in NP's present but also detractors.

An indication on here of who is going would be good, and would a pre meeting meeting be a good idea to formulate some kind of action plan, similar to what happened before the successful council meeting a few months back?

Flynny's picture

Rob set it up as a meeting in the calendar show you can show if you intend attending

[Mod. Linked in calendar]

Nerf Herder's picture

you need to RSVP

Springwood: Tuesday 5th October 6-8pm, Springwood Country Club, Hawkesbury Rd Springwood. Please RSVP to 4784 7300 or

The Brown Hornet's picture

Word on the street is Geoff Luscombe, the NPWS Regional Manager will be at Springwood tonight, so a very good opportunity to meet the brass.

See you all there.

Nerf Herder's picture

I was a little late so missed a little of the beginning ... soz peeps

about 3 dozen or so attendees ...
- A mix of Gen X and Boomers (and Nick )
EEC / Environmental Assessment / Assessment of suitability
- A few comments with regards to Endanger Ecological Communities and were there any that would precluded from allowing riding. I didn't really hear the answer, but the questioner wasn't very happy with the response. (They left after that)
- There are set standards which are uniformly used to conduct Environmental assessments. I was trying to ensure that consistency was key and that assessment processes did not differ between parks and various areas.
- Coordination between NPWS and other Land Managers was needed. To which Parks advised that this was standard practice now (eg for walking trails).
- Where Parks do not have the relevant cycling specific skills (eg trail design) would they seek either Cycling community group feedback (ge Nobmob, BMORC etc) or external consultants (I should have specifically mentioned IMBA) ... their answer was yes. They made repeated referrence to IMBA standards ... however, I don't recall them saying they will specifically work with IMBA (Aust). They referred to World trail.

- NPWS recognises that MTBérs are enthusiastic and would be a good source of volunteer labour (plus the benefits of adding ownership to tracks ... a bit of bumbling about ... "you won't actually own the track ... but you'll get a sense of ownership ... you understand right ??? "
- User pays was raised and some kind of annual parks pass was suggested.
- Volunteer labour as a form of user pays was raised.
- better communication, signage, websites where raised.
- A Code of Conduct ... Self Policing by the MTB community was raised (ie, we are willing to take on some responsibilities as a community as well)

Riding Styles
- I bumbled a question with regards to definition of DH ... I asked "if I ride my XC bike down hill am I done ... if I ride with a full face ???" etc etc ... they responded by basically saying if you can't ride up ... or if the track is short (up to 4ks) and you need another form of transport to get up the track then this is DH.
- I didn't get all the response ... but something along the line of "... It is proposed in the paper that DH is not suitable ..." seems to me to be a forgone conclusion that DH is dead.
- Various attempts were made to highlight that the style of riding shouldn't be the focus by the environmental assessment, sustainable trail design/construction etc to allow for Sustainable MTB regardless of whether a track was ridden on a BMX, XC, DH, cyclocrosser (yep one of the Rangers raised the need to include cyclocross ... which participated further discussion as to what could happen in future with different bikes and styles [paraphasing]

Trail Design / Facilities / moving forward
- The group raised the little annoying things with current tracks / facilities to highlight how these facilities were not adequately designed for the relevant user groups. (eg, the gates at the Oaks are not cyclist friendly and lead to damage to infrastructure [the tap is busted due to people using it as a step])
- Rangers raised that this was a common complaint by other groups too and took it on board
- better signage/communication would encourage increased use of exisiting facilities (eg camping areas)
- additional tracks / facilities that catered for differing skill levels and user groups (eg Mom's & dads vs, recreational vs "Hardcore" riders [which meant racers for some reason])
- Fire Trails were raised a number of times
* how can you call MTB's [environmental vandals] when you let RFS mow huge sections of FT
* why not design/construct these FTs to cater for multi - users. eg, instead of allowing them to mow the FT in a straight line down a steep descent, why not curve it or some other design consideration for other user groups [I thought this was very outside the box, and was raised by Steve Humphries ... worth voicing more IMO]
- we tried to raise demand as measured by illegal tracks as a potential factor to be used in gauging the need for facilities and for setting next steps (eg, to secure budget)

Litigation and relevant legislation
- The current changes in legislation with regards to using lands in a knowingly dangerous manner was raised and explained to highlight the reduction is litigation risks
- One of the rangers raised something about their personal obligations (apologies, I didn't catch all this, but I think it may have been in referrence to building trails )

- Glenrock was raised a number of times as an example of successful use of Sustainable trail design / construction, use of volunteers etc
- It was asked whether the new policy would allow for retrospective change of existing PoMs that did not cater for MTB. The answer was no.
- It was then asked whether the administrative processes required to amend PoMs would be beefed up to reduce the timeframe required to amend a PoM deficient in MTB facilities (eg Glenrock took 5 years). In addition we asked whether a PoM could be amended outside of the scheduled review period.
* The short answer was admin won't change as amending a PoM is pretty much the same as getting a new PoM. and if we can get a PoM amended in 2 years then your doing well.
* However, the positive is that a PoM can be amended outside of the scheduled review period.
Note: I find this very interesting, yet frustrating and should be noted to set expectations

- I asked if they had current stats for and against ... interestingly they said "... its not the numbers [for & against] its the comments raised ...". This can be taken in both a negative and positive way (eg, MTBér may have an overwhelming response, but a few well placed comments in the negative could have more weight).
Conspiracy theory ... maybe

This was all off the top off my head ... so for those BMORC, WSMTB or other RBérs that attended feel free to correct or add to what I have.

Note: The area "Manager" suggested if you had some ideas with regards to the use of volunteers to email and he would [gladly] review and take it into consideration. I thought this and the meeting in general was pretty positive (except of the DH is dead bit)


sorry for the rambling

Rob's picture

Nice feedback. Sounds positive, but 2 points:

1. Ever since we started talking to NPWS they have hidden behind legislation and PoM documents. I'll say it again that in April 2008 I met with rangers from Sydney North and asked them to review the PoM for Garigal National Park. If they had started the process then, then many of the problems on the Northern Beaches would be resolved by now.

Moreover , the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974[1] states that the minister can amend, cancel or replace a PoM at any time. Public exhibition must be made, but in these cases is reduced to 45 days.

Basically, if the administration really wanted to change a PoM, it could be changed in under 2 months so this is no excuse not to act fast. Especially since they have known this is coming for a long time now!

2, IMHO, "User Pays" will never work. How on earth are you going to enforce it? Said enforcement will probably cost more than income. The discussion paper states, "NPWS spend of an estimated $70 million on visitor facilities and infrastructure, including more than 2000 walking tracks, 700 picnic sites, 420 lookouts and 450 campgrounds". How much do walkers pay for those 2000 walking tracks? I'm guessing nothing so why should bike riders (who are prepared to build their own tracks anyhow) be any different?


The Brown Hornet's picture

I think it was a fairly positive meeting. It was good to see the usual suspects, reaffirm old aquaintances and meet new people.

Some of the baby boomers Al refers to, like Martin and Terry, were instrumental in getting access to wilderness areas years ago when they were on the verge of being closed to cyclists.

As Rob has mentioned, NPWS can change a PoM if they really want to. Hopefully with the amount of comment on this proposal they will put it on the fast track, but don't hold your breath.

As far as user pays, I got the feeling from last night's meeting that they only brought it up because they sort of had to, not out of any real desire to implement it. My opinion only. I buy an annual pass every year so as far as I'm concerned I've paid to use the parks.

All up a positive meeting with the only sledging done by that old fart, who said about fire trails "They are there to prevent fires, while you start them". He reminded me of an older version of Higgins off Magnum PI.

Andy Bloot's picture

He sure was a Higgins type
Cultured accent and cravat and all
Even had the same hair style

I think he was trying to stir rather than being completely serious, though

I really felt for the woman from Nichols pde who was abused in her front yard by some twat
It wasn't a debate of the pros and cons so she was shut down (nicely) by the facilitator
But it didn't give us a chance to 'apologise on the behalf of' and she left so quickly afterwards
That sort of thing's a real shame

xtc's picture

Agreed to the above-
Natalie King did say that Parks didn't consider that a user pays system would work as compliance enforcement would cost more than they brought in.
I did like the lady that was able to spot illegal trailbuilders in the crowd though.

deadparrot's picture

That Lady was looking right at me when she said that she could see some of the illegal trail builders in the crowd, may she just thought I was handsome......

The Brown Hornet's picture

Yep Gus, straight at ya'! Pursed lips and disapproving glare over the top of the spectacles.

J the B's picture

My takeaway from the night and this whole process is that it's trying to amend NPWS policy, to allow for easier provision of MTB use in Plans of Management.

Everything to do with allowing MTB access will still come through the individual POMs. The POM process does not change, but it will be far easier to get MTB use considered when creating or modifying a POM, as there will now be policy that specifically allows for it, in a defined way.

A case in point was Glenrock: if NPWS had these proposed policy changes in place prior to that POM, perhaps the POM would have been completed quicker?

As for DH: The primary mission of the NPWS is conservation, and supporting that, providing and promoting access to parks in order for the public to enjoy and appreciate the park, nature, environment, etc. NPWS don't see that DH riders show that kind of appreciation for the natural environment. They kind of think a DH rider would be just as happy riding a DH track if it was in an open area as they would be if the same track was in the bush. And the distinction being that they think XC-style riders really appreciate the bush part of things, not just the track.

ChopStiR's picture

What I got from the meeting was NPWS's main aim.

The main aim is not about providing Mountain Biking, but rather getting more people into the parks who appreciate it, and use the other facilities at hand. Mountain biking is just the primary Lure to support as it is a growing recreation and sport. Now they say they have no intention of Down hill as a style as It does not serve there purpose. But they did say All-mounatin tracks being advance technical cross-country tracks. Can you have an "All mountain" track running down hill. I dont see why not!

Rob's picture

@J... yeah, you said it.

Here's what a sceptic might see happening...

This document and the aknowledgements it makes about how sustainable, properly designed trails benefit everyone (not just riders) will be accepted. But that won't be the end of the road by a long shot. NPWS staff will still hide being the PoM process and use that as an excuse to drag their feet and make the adoption and authorised use of trails take a long, long time.

Personally though, I don't see that they have that choice.

Think about it: Thousands of submissions in favour of the sort of facilities this document describes, hopefully massively outnumbering those not wanting such change. Well - if we all do our bit! More importantly, the changes riders and their advocates are asking for do benefit all, and are wholey inkeeping with the NPWS Act and it's objectives. They also benefit the wider state with environmental, economic and health outcomes that cannot even come close to being reliased by not facilitating higher visitation rates by mountain bike riders.

Just one of the things this paper accepts though is that a meaningful, authorised trail network cuts down or totally eradicates illegal activity. So once NPWS have noted this and no-one has challenged their method how can they not immediately act. This would be akin to the state's police force saying they have a proven way to cut 95% of the road toll but this proven method cannot be implemented for another 5 years, simply due to the paperwork. Image the uproar?!

So when this paper lands on the Minister's desk, are they going to immediately ammend PoM documents to let this happen, or are they going to see damage done to the health of the state, the economy and the parks just because they can't push though a bit of paperwork? Hmmmmm?

P.S. Side issue - I reckon you'd have to change couple of paragraphs and a handful of words in the Garigal National Park PoM to make a difference. To be frank - it would be ridiculous not to have such ammendments ready to go to the Minister at the same time as this paper does: "Dear Minister... here's a community consultation paper for you to sign. Oh, and here's a few PoM document to ammend that make the adoption of that paper possible."

Nerf Herder's picture

I must have missed all this negative stuff ... bah ... I wonder whether she would have focused on me the unwashed Asian with sandals, flanno and I don't think I've combed my hair in like 6 weeks Smiling.

I'm sure Rob's right ... and unfortunately this is likely step 100 of many more steps, but I guess you need to look at the progress that it can produce notwithstanding the other cultural baggage that seems to come with it.

I really recent this crap about DH'ers not appreciating the natural bushland environments that we ride through. how do they know what I do and don't like. Not every ride is a frig'n race, and not every session is just banging out runs. appreciation of the terrain and the relevant bushland setting comes hand in hand with the riding experience.

I'd hate to ride a steep grassy paddock ... well more then a few times ... uhmmm a week ... I'd rather ride through steep, tree covered, rocky scenery that only a Mountainous environment can provide. Shit I'll push if I have too.

The Brown Hornet's picture

So that's what the smell behind me was! Nice flanny BTW, I have exactly the same one but in a mens size Smiling.

The negative stuff was minor and just folks blowing hot air, although the stereotyping of mtbers still seems to be alive and well, despite a very impressive cross section of riders being at the Springaz meeting. It has always been the way though- defining a person by one aspect of their life.

Martin Geliot's picture

The stirrer alleging fire starting is called Brian. I don't know his last name.

I'd be hesitant to give the woman from Nichols Pde a grovelling apology- we don't know the whole story. Often people who complain are the instigators of problematic behaviour. So perhaps best that her beef was shut down by the facilitator. We just don't know what really happened.

Martin Geliot's picture

I don't see that a descending track isn't possible, especially if it isn't really setup for shuttling.

Also while I am quite sure DH tracks in the National Parks are unlikely they might be possible in degraded land under NPWS management.

I wonder what might happen if the escarpment including Old Bathurst Road and the chicken run were to be handed over from BMCC to NPWS to be managed more like Glenrock SCA or Yellowmundee. I wouldn't be holding my breath over getting a DH track anytime soon, but at least NPWS won't have to listen to nimby residents in the way that BMCC does. Just a thought.

J the B's picture

There actually wasn't much negativity at the meeting at all. I think it's a pretty damned good discussion paper, and the vibe from NPWS seems pretty good. The fact that Parks is looking to change policy in favour of MTB is, although long overdue, not something that I'm going to whinge about. I know there's political pressure from state government to show support for cycling, but I still can't see NPWS going through this step if they weren't serious about backing it.

But just don't expect NPWS to go out and start building tracks tomorrow. Any new facilities will still need to be listed in the Plans of Management. But once this policy change comes into place, and a new POM is opened (or an existing one is under review), we simply need to make sure we jump up and down and make sure cycling is represented. Obviously, not all areas are suitable for riding, so we can't expect every new POM to include bike tracks.

I'm pretty sure that we're going to get cycling tracks of some sort approved a lot easier with this policy change. But here's my biggest concern:

The paper acknowledges singletrack as one of the types of track that need to be catered for. It also mentions a preference for modifying / extending existing tracks. I just don't think these two are very compatible in the mountains. I don't think that there are many existing narrow tracks (i.e. walking tracks) that are suitable for sustainable mountain-biking. My view of what's going to happen in the BM area is that it's mostly management tracks / fire trails that are going to be modified / extended, and any single track will have to be built from scratch.

What I hope doesn't happen is that the MTB part of a POM gets filled by just management trails, and the single-track aspect is put into the too-hard basket.

Another note on DH: As others mentioned, it's not about the type of bike you ride, it's about the type of track. If we do get approved single-track in our local National Parks, it will be (as they say) either XC or All-Mountain style. There will of course be downhill sections (it's the mountains, after all), and possibly technical bits. But the steeper/more technical sections are going to be more like Mt York than Thredbo, so I don't expect we'll see anything worth bringing the Kona for.

Lastly, I think that Steve Humphries had an excellent point. There are huge numbers of RFS fire trails that get carved in the easiest, quickest route, often straight down the fall line. I don't know whether fire trails have to be as straight as possible, but if not, some prior consultation with other user groups might be an excellent way of getting much better quality, more sustainable trails to ride on, with far less maintenance requirements. And if, at the very least, we could connect a bunch of those dead-end fire-trails with sections of sustainable single-track, I for one would be a happy man.

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