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New Phase Of Post-Cave Creek Asset Management

DOC Enters New Phase Of Post-Cave Creek Asset Management

Conservation Minister Sandra Lee says DOC is entering a new phase of asset management, now that the detailed inspection and remedial work on its more than 15,000 visitor platforms and structures is nearing completion.

Speaking at the launch of the Government's 'Eco 2001' package today, she said that the Department had undertaken a comprehensive inventory and inspection of all the structures on conservation land in the period immediately after the Cave Creek tragedy.

"The Department of Conservation has secured new funding in this year's Budget to enable it to focus on the next highest areas of safety risk, such as backcountry huts," Ms Lee said. "The risks associated with huts are obviously less than those associated with structures like platforms and bridges."
The Conservation Minister announced that the Government will commence a major programme from 1 July, spending an additional $16M1 over three years to manage and upgrade visitor facilities on conservation land. This brings the total funds for visitor management to $35m1 in the 2001/2002 year.
Ms Lee says more than 600-backcountry huts will be brought up to standard, and at least 30 huts will be replaced. She says DOC has also identified about 50 critical sites where work on replacing or upgrading public toilet facilities needs to be carried out within the next year.
"The new funding is certainly timely," she said. "It will ensure that the DOC network of backcountry huts and associated visitor facilities are structurally sound, and that the public toilets are functional and meet acceptable environmental standards.
Ms Lee said she was disappointed that some remote huts and shelters had fallen into such disrepair during the past decade that the only option DOC had was to remove them because it could not afford to maintain them.

However she was pleased that the 2001 Budget allocation of new funding meant the deferred maintenance needs of visitor facilities on public conservation land could finally be addressed while an ongoing strategy for the sustainable management of visitor facilities was being developed.

The Conservation Minister said DOC had undertaken a baseline survey of more than half of the 1020 huts that it managed, to determine what was needed to bring them up to the department’s standards. She said the disposal of human waste had also become an issue in campsites and picnic areas and sites where there was high visitor use. Of the $16m, $7.59m will be used for building huts and toilets.

"The network of backcountry huts is an important facility, enabling trampers and recreational hunters and other visitors to enjoy New Zealand's national parks and reserves," Ms Lee said.

She said work to bring huts up to standard would begin towards the end of this year and continue through the following three years, while the toilet upgrade work will result in new or improved toilets in critical locations from Spring this year.

Ms Lee also confirmed that DOC proposals for a new fee system for its public huts and campsites had been deferred.

"I have told Departmental officials that I have not seen compelling evidence for the changes they had proposed," she said.

Media contacts:
Fraser Folster, Press Secretary, 04 471 9821 or 025 947 795
Kevin Smith, Senior Conservation Adviser, 04 471 9143 or 025 291 8099

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