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Federated Mountain Clubs Newsletter

Federated Mountain Clubs Newsletter

Here is a summary of activities of the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand in May 2013 , plus news on significant developments of importance to trampers, climbers and all those interested in outdoor recreation . FMC AG M The FMC AGM will be held on Saturday June 8th in the Titoki Room, Jubilee Building, Parnell, Auckland , starting at 10:30am.

Clubs not represented in person at the meeting are encouraged to send in their delegate/proxy forms in to the FMC secretary by Friday May 31st . The form can be downloaded from www.fmc.org.nz/circulators/ - please note the amended date for the return of proxy forms. FMC helps launch the Mackenzie Agreement FMC gathered in Twizel on Sunday 12 May with Forest and Bird, Fish and Game, Federated Farmers, local councils, and many members of the community and local businesses to launch the Mackenzie Agreement, which sets out a shared vision and process for resolving the longstanding di sputes between development and conservation in the Upper Waitaki.

Minister of Conservation Nick Smith, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, and Chairman of the Primary Production Select Committee Shane Ardern launched the Agreement. The Mackenzie Agreement proposes a tentative target of 100,000 hectares of private land to be protected for its conservation values, through a proposed Mackenzie Country Trust and "joint management agreements", which are similar to covenants, but with an ongoing payment. Some small and lar ge scale irrigation will also go ahead, in order to drought - proof properties. FMC Vice President Peter Wil son represented FMC over the 18 month period that the Forum met, and with fellow executive member , Nick Plimmer , attende d the launch event in Twizel . The key for the Trust is securing ongoing government and private sector funding, but with the goodwill present amongst all players, this should be possible. FMC looks forward to assisting the process where possible .

A full copy of the Agreement is available here : http://www.mackenziecountry.org.nz/
Second generation Conservation Management Strategies publicly released in June The Department of Conservation will be releasing the Canterbu ry, Otago, and Southland conservation management strategies for public submissions on 26 June. FMC will be carefully analysing these important documents and urges its members to do the same. FMC hopes that its previous comments to DOC planners have been ca refully considered and included within these plans.

Great Walks or Great Rides? Mountain Biking on the Kepler Track and Hollyford Track - Your Opinion?

FMC will be taking an interest in the recently publicised idea of introducing mountain biking to the Kepler track in the Fiordland National Park. The Kepler is one of the Great Walks and is extremely popular with people from overseas and also with New Zealanders, many of whom have the Kepler as one of their "must do" walks. Whether they will appreciate sh aring this track with mountain bikers will be a matter of discussion over the next month or so. From late June, DoC's Southland Conservancy will consult with the public about this as, and according to the Department, there has been some significant interest shown both from bikers and from businesses in the Te Anau and Manapouri region.

The upcoming review of the Southland CMS will provide the opportunity for public feedback. The same public consultation will also request feedback on whether the Hollyford track should be open to bikers. While sections of this track lends very well to biking, it also is a pleasant and user - friendly track for inexperienced trampers and families to travel to Hidden Falls hut and possibly on to Lake Alabaster. However, use of this track by bikers would also provide another voice in opposition to the proposed Haast - Hollyford road.

We also understand that a proposal is also being floated to allow biking on the Abel Tasman track, a Great Walk, possibly during the winter months. Obviously, these proposals will benefit local transport operators and accommodation providers - something which must not be dismissed out of hand in terms of maintaining and creating jobs in smaller centres. When FMC looks more closely at these proposals we will take into account our own policy on mountain biking and the Accord we have with Mountain Bike New Zealand. And it is vital we have members' opinions as well to help formulate our s ubmissions especially when reviewing the CMS documents for these areas, or submitting on any partial management plan review. Please email us with your views - secretary@fmc.org.nz

Government moves to limit protests

FMC are concerned about the recent mov es to impose harsh penalties for any protests on the sea against mining/oil exploration . Whilst the amendment that was passed under urgency is limited to protesters within 500m of an exploration vessel or who interfere with its activities, the penalties ar e severe – criminal conviction with fines of up to $50,000 or imprisonment for a year. This legislation is unnecessary : there are already numerous laws in place providing for maritime safety and covering violent acts against vessels and installations , but this Act goes further, potentially criminalising even accidental breaching of the 500m exclusion zone around a vessel.

It also contravenes international maritime law, and international agreements concerning human rights and the right to peaceful protest. Should the same sort of legislation be enacted for ordinary street protest, the street marches that we supported and participated in recently against mining Schedule 4 land, would result in thousands of arrests. Other parts of the same legislation limit t he powers of the Minister of Conservation in decision - making with respect to mining. This is extremely worrying. Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill In its assessment of the impacts of the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Bill, FMC noted with alarm, key inconsistencies concerning Wilderness Areas and their protection as set do wn in Clause 57, Section 18AA. Currently, all gazetted Wilderness Areas are protected under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991 and although this section of that Act is incorporated into the above Bill, protection for Wilderness Areas is not as ro bust as it might first appear.

If a Wilderness Area status is revoked, and if the unde rlying parcel of land does not reside within the boundaries of a National Par k or Reserve, it loses its Schedule 4 protection and may then be open for mining or prospecting . This is critical for two significant Wilderness Areas, Adams and Hooker - Landsborough, both of which reside in lower status ‘C onservation Stewardship Land.’ F MC believes that Wilderness Areas represent the cream of New Zealand’s natural environment possessing no man - made structures or tracks and, with the exception of conservation management or emergencies, pe rmitting no mechanised access.

It is incomprehensibl e to FMC why a government would want to incorporate into legislation provision f or revocation of their status. FMC sought an amendment that allowed for revocation only by an Act of Parliament and not by Order in Council on recommendation o f the Minister (o r M inisters). FMC also expressed its intense disquiet at the prospect of the Crown Minerals Bill allowing for classification decisions for the classes of conservation areas listed in clauses 1 - 7 of Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991, and that are currently the sole responsibility of the Minister of Conservation, to instead to be subject to cabinet consideration, and at the prospect of joint decision making on access arrangements by both the Minister of Conservation and the Minister of Energy a nd Re sources. At present the Minister of Conservation approves access arrangements to land administered by t he Department of Conservation. This reflects the principle that the Conservation Minister is administering that land on behalf of the people of New Zealand, and recognises the principle that the land has been set aside for the preservation of the flora and fauna an d landscapes that exist there.

ends

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