Awards celebrate Inland conservation champions
EMBARGOED UNTIL 7PM THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 12
Awards celebrate Inland conservation champions
The Department of
Conservation (DOC) Inland Conservation Awards this year
recognise the hard work of three groups to boost mountain
biking and cycling touring opportunities in Central Otago
and the lakes district.
The passion and dedication of all of the finalists is a true reflection of the 2013 Conservation Week theme, ‘What’s your whänau doing?’ which aims to encourage people to protect and enjoy our natural environment. This Thursday night (12 September, 2013), the Department of Conservation will acknowledge this commitment at the annual Inland Conservation Awards in Cromwell.
DOC Regional Partnerships Director Barry Hanson said the awards honour the great work of people who go the extra mile for conservation.
All the finalists have dedicated many hundreds of hours to improving recreation opportunities for Otago people and all New Zealanders, Mr Hanson said.
He said the quality of the award finalists
was again outstanding, making it difficult for the Otago
Conservation Board to select just three finalists.
This year’s Inland Conservation Award recipients are:
Winner - Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust
The new cycle and walking trail between the Roxburgh Dam and Lawrence is the result of seven years of hard work by a group of Central Otago locals, the Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust.
Led by chairman Rod Pierce,
trust members have committed considerable volunteer hours to
the project. Although supported by DOC and councils at the
outset, members and contractors had to carry out lengthy
negotiations with private landowners to enable completion of
the trail. The trail passes through farms which presented
various challenges, including managing stock access. To
solve this issue, the trust funded and erected many
kilometres of fencing.
The trail provides continuous public access along the banks of the Clutha River/Mata-Au in the Teviot Valley and showcases the area’s history of early Māori moa hunters, Chinese gold miners, European pastoral farming, mining and rail.
The trail forms part of an extensive network of Great Rides in the Otago region, linking with the Roxburgh Gorge Trail at the Roxburgh Dam, then on to the Otago Central Rail Trail in Alexandra.
As between 10,000 and 20,000 people are projected to use the trail a year, it is expected to become a valuable recreational asset, providing potential income opportunities to Teviot Valley communities and towns.
Finalist - Queenstown Mountain Bike Club
The Queenstown Mountain Bike Club has been instrumental in boosting Queenstown’s reputation as one of the best mountain biking locations in New Zealand.
Club members have developed four bike parks in Queenstown: Jardine Park at Kelvin Heights, a jump park in Gorge Road, the downhill express and freestyle park in Wynyard Crescent, and the 7 Mile terrain park.
The club has also produced a strategy to build and has initiated construction of a cross county network, linking existing biking hubs to Queenstown and beyond, and opening up land that has been largely inaccessible to all but the most determined walkers.
The club has installed trail maps, produced a quality brochure and is hoping to install interpretation panels in the near future.
The club’s ability to work with DOC, landowners, the Queenstown Trails Trust, Queenstown Lakes District Council, and Historic Places Trust has shown it to be a capable and mature organisation. It is an excellent example of what a determined and motivated community group can achieve.
Finalist – Bike Wanaka
Bike Wanaka members have played a huge role in increasing the popularity of mountain biking in the Wanaka area in recent years. The club’s projects have evolved into enormously popular assets for the community and visitors.
The club has been involved in funding, planning and constructing several mountain bike tracks and this year is developing another network of tracks.
The first project by the club in 2007 was a bike park at Lismore Park in Wanaka. This was constructed by volunteers and funded through their own initiatives.
The Deans Bank track on conservation land on the outskirts of Wanaka was opened in 2011. This was designed by Bike Wanaka members and constructed by volunteers and contractors. About 45,000 people a year use this track, which is maintained by the club.
The club has taken on responsibility for maintaining the Newcastle Track, between Albert Town and Luggate, an initiative by the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust in partnership with the club and DOC which was opened last year.
This year, the club is developing a track in the Hikuwai Conservation Area as part of a single loop track from the conservation area to Sticky Forest near Lake Wanaka Outlet. The club is also developing three junior loops in the area to cater for children of different abilities and ages.
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Bike Wanaka members and DOC at the Deans Bank track opening. Photo: DOC