Access & Environment Officer report May 2019

As announced by the VCC President on 6th May    https://vicclimb.org.au/2019/05/access-environment-officer-announcement/  I have resigned from my my position as Access & Environment Officer. Today will be my last day although I will be seeing the project launch of the Central Gully Walking Track Repair through on Saturday June 8th.

This hasn’t been an easy decision to make especially as I leave in a challenging time for Access, but after 11 years in the job, it’s time for a bit of self care, and also for someone else with a fresh heart and head to journey through the next couple of years that the Grampians access issues more specifically, will require. Best wishes for the new Access officer.

This will be my last report. It won’t contain much about the Grampians access – there will be more updates coming out about that soon. Instead it is just a few things I have also been working on with some great volunteers.

CliffCare website

The new CliffCare website is currently being built by Brett Williams of Sidetrip Productions. This is definitely the website I have wished for many years. Easy to navigate, great educational information, advocacy history and current campaigns. Here is a screenshot – stay tuned for the launch sometime in the near future.

cliffcare website screenshot

 

Education

Now that the CliffCare Education Project poster campaign Access is No Accident has launched, further efforts can be put into discussing the issues at length. One of my last tasks to do today is put together some small packs that will be sent to the gyms that contain the Access is No Accident posters, CliffCare posters CLF3 Poster A4_1.0 and postcards, and a gym copy of a great publication – Aboriginal Heritage identification guide. This guide was developed by Parks Victoria’s culture and heritage branch. It is used by Parks Victoria employees as well as other agencies and groups that may work on Parks Victoria managed land. As the climbing community regularly engage in working parties in the parks, being aware is an important part of being a volunteer. Alongside this requirement for understanding the volunteer work, this booklet is a great opportunity for the climbing community in general to read up and understand a little more about Cultural Heritage and how it is more than rock art.

Aboriginal Heritage Identification Guide -1

Aboriginal Heritage Identification Guide

You can also find this for download on the Education tab – Indigenous Cultural Heritage
https://cliffcare.org.au/about/education/indigenous-cultural-heritage/

Many thanks to Parks Victoria for supplying hardcopies and allowing us to provide the pdf for access. This will eventually reside in the education portal on the new CliffCare website but it the meantime you can access it on the current website as noted above.

Central Gully Walking Track Repair Project Launch Date – Pick My Project.

After the successful win in the State Government ‘Pick My Project’ grant programme and all the usual paperwork and permits required –

The launch date is now confirmed – Queens Birthday Weekend – 8th June, 2019.

The project now needs one of the most important contributions in order to get it up and running. You.

We need bodies to help move some rocks down the track so that stonemason extraordinaire Walter Braun, can work his magic. All you need is an hour or so to spare, some closed toe shoes and that’s it.

We will meet at the top of Central Gully at 9.30am  for some launch festivities and then onto a little rock transportation. Please drop CliffCare a line so we can estimate numbers. cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

Many thanks for the funding provided by the Victorian Government through Pick My Project.

And that’s about it – As always lots more to say, so many works in the pipeline but I will be passing that onto the next person now.
Thanks to many for their support over the years and best wishes in the access space.

Over and out,

Tracey Skinner

Green Photo Background Environmental Protection Poster

Project Launch – Upper Central Gully Walking Track Repair Project 2019

The launch date is now confirmed – Queens Birthday Weekend – 8th June, 2019. That’s only 2 weeks away.

We’ve had a few hiccups but we are now rearing to go.

The Pick My Project – Upper Central Gully Walking Track Repair Project now needs one of the most important contributions in order to get it up and running. You.

We need bodies to help move some rocks down the track so that stonemason extraordinaire Walter Braun, can work his magic. All you need is an hour or so to spare, some closed toe shoes and that’s it.

We will meet at the top of Central Gully at 9.30am  for some launch festivities and then onto a little rock transportation. Please drop me CliffCare a line so we can estimate numbers. cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

Many thanks for the funding provided by the Victorian Government through Pick My Project

Green Photo Background Environmental Protection Poster

Grampians Landscape Management Plan

Want to keep up to date with the management plan review and provide input? Register here at Engage Victoria. First step.

https://engage.vic.gov.au/grampians-management-plan

As announced on the 29th April, Parks Victoria will commence a review process of the Grampians National Park Management Plan in July 2019.
https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/about-us/news/grampians-national-park-statement

There will be a variety of opportunities to provide feedback over the review process and a Stakeholder Reference Group will soon be set in order to engage key stakeholders from the conservation, tourism and recreation sectors.

If you want to provide input make sure you register at Engage Victoria. Be informed and have your say.

 

Grampians Update – PV meeting 1st May

Yesterday VCC/CliffCare representatives – Tracey Skinner (Access & Environment Officer), Philipp Hammes (VCC Vice President) and myself (Paula Toal, VCC President) – met with Simon Talbot and other Parks Victoria (PV) staff. The meeting was positive overall. PV outlined the consultative process for the development of the new Grampians National Park management plan which will have representation of the climbing community through a Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) to facilitate the needs and rights of climbers to be protected in the new management plan and secure the legitimacy of climbing in the Grampians.

PV and the Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG is a working group of VCC/CliffCare) have been analysing spatial data to provide clarity as to which crags currently sit within Special Protection Areas (SPA) so that the climbing community has accurate information. The updated map and list of crags will be available soon, as we are only awaiting the PV analyst’s final cross-referencing of the data.

The VCC has taken legal steps to clarify the reasons for the existing bans as a means to understand on what legitimate and ethical basis we could seek to renegotiate access. We are anticipating the formal response to that legal request from Parks Victoria by the end of this week and PV confirmed that response is on track to meet that deadline.

We communicated to PV that we believe the essential next steps include that we have the opportunity to engage with them and Traditional Owners to understand and discuss the reasons for the SPAs and negotiate changes to those boundaries that allow access to our important world-class climbing areas.
 
We also communicated the negative impact the SPA restrictions are having on visitation to the Grampians and crowding at open crags. We particularly highlighted that the loss of many more moderate grade climbing areas is particularly difficult. We spoke at some length about Summerday Valley and PV acknowledged the confusion about this area and asked for us to leave this issue with them for immediate internal consideration. We will follow up on next steps in this regard.

We agreed with PV to commence development of a joint communication strategy to ensure correct representation of the collaboration between the climbing community and PV and address the negative impressions that have been made by the reports in the mainstream media. Simon Talbot also advised that PV plans to disengage with the mainstream media to prevent further confusion and misrepresentation.

PV also shared an update on its activities including the three compliance weekends in the Grampians where rangers were brought in from across the state to undertake compliance activities in the park. PV indicated it spoke with more than 700 individuals and identified 67 offences, only a handful of which were attributed to climbers. The offences attributed to climbers included driving around a locked management gate, driving off track, improper disposal of toilet paper, removing vegetation, climbing in a SPA and an instance where three individuals were found climbing in one of the eight key focus sites which can attract a fine. PV indicated that as yet they have not issued any fines however they are still considering how best to deal with the specific infringement related to the focus sites.

The VCC feels strongly that the best way forward is through a positive collaboration with Parks Victoria and the Traditional Owners. A respectful dialogue between all parties will have the best outlook regarding climbing access in Victoria.

The VCC/Cliffcare and GAWG will continue to update the climbing community about further progress and has commenced a process to engage with other clubs and representatives of the climbing community to develop an effective structure to support representation on the Grampians National Park management plan Stakeholder Reference Group. If you have ideas and suggestions, please let us know.

Paula Toal
VCC President

VCC – https://vicclimb.org.au/?p=1372

Rockclimbing article and misinformation

Disappointingly, much of the content in the below from Parks Victoria once again fuels the misinformation out there. 

It doesn’t give an informed account of what rock climbing is and provides nothing about the extensive history of the climbing community engaging with land managers.

The comments from PV unjustifiably paint the climbing community as reckless, damaging and unthoughtful. We have engaged PV previously on the misinformation they put out there, and they continue to misrepresent the situation. 

Cultural Heritage and its protection and preservation remain at the forefront of the work we do and we know that the climbing community supports this. PV is also well aware of this through the many years of work and during more recent concerns.

We will be addressing this continuing misinformation at our next planned meeting with PV. We will keep you updated.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/grampian-ban-follows-claims-of-rock-art-damage-in-mecca-for-climbers-20190426-p51hgg.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed

Grampians Community Update April 24

A short update on some GAWG activities and further information from Parks Victoria. They have sent us copies of maps that enlarge the northern end of SPAs and included legend and grid references. This has been created following feedback and were used this weekend to help engagement activity.

VCC/CliffCare  have a meeting with Parks Victoria next week. We will be discussing the climbing data currently available, and next steps associated with establishing the reference group and the future of the Grampians National Park Management Plan. Parks Victoria and VCC/CliffCare are working together to share spatial information to help park users understand where climbing can and can’t occur. We will take this opportunity to question and discuss further the current closures in place and also follow up on our previous complaints about misinformation being put into the public sphere that adversely affects the reputation of the climbing community.

In the area of Cultural Heritage and Indigenous affairs – After initial contact with a number of Traditional Owner groups, we are working with our Reconcilliation advisor on next steps in this area. Once we have more substantive information we will share.

As always, we ask for your patience whilst we work through a multi layered process that requires thoughtful and respectful engagement.

Education. The launch of CliffCare’s educational campaign is just around the corner. This has been a long time in the making with many people offering their help. More on this soon.

Fundraising and Educational Awareness event. ClimbForGrampians May8 is a climber community initiative which CliffCare has been collaborating on with a number of gyms throughout Victoria and South Australia.

More on this on a separate post.

GrampiansNorth_RockClimb 23042019

GrampiansNorth_RockClimb 23042019

GRAMPIANS COMMUNITY UPDATE APRIL 18 2019

WHAT IS THE GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP (GAWG)

The Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG) was formed in February this year by the Victorian Climbing Club and CliffCare to respond to the unexpected closures to climbing in the Grampians. We want to provide an update to the climbing community about our approach, what we have been doing and how you can get involved. You can find out more about the group and the people involved HERE

The ban on climbing is an understandably emotive issue and there have been many individual responses from within the climbing community. GAWG believes that ongoing collaboration with Parks Victoria and the Traditional Owners is the way to achieve the best outcome for climbing in the Grampians. Climbers will always need to maintain a relationship with Parks Victoria as the legitimate managers of the Grampians and it is important that we recognise their very real concerns about the impacts of climbing on the park. We intend to work with PV to find a resolution that meets these concerns and provides the best possible outcome for climbing. In doing so we hope to build a positive reputation for climbers as responsible custodians of the environment and cultural heritage.

WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING?

We have written to PV to express our disappointment at the lack of consultation before the climbing bans were imposed and to point out the previous long history of cooperation between climbers, land managers and traditional owners to address access issues in the Grampians and elsewhere.

We have made contact with local MP Emma Kealy and Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to inform them of our concerns regarding the closures, highlighting our desire to work with PV to address any issues.

We have contacted PV to formally request written reasons for the 8 closures in the Victoria range and the subsequent 29 closures in new Special Protection Areas (SPA). This is in ongoing correspondence.

We are working with PV to ascertain precisely which climbing sites are banned, including in the older and the newly declared SPAs.

Our intention is to look at the specific issues at each climbing site with PV to better understand if there are genuine conflicts with cultural or environmental values – and how these might be addressed.

We have pointed out to PV some misinformation about climbing impacts on their website. This was acknowledged by PV and removed. We will pursue this issue further with PV.

We are preparing to participate in the PV Stakeholder Reference Group. This group is being set up by PV to address current access issues as well as longer term strategic planning for climbing both in the Grampians and the rest of Victoria.

Prior to the first SRG meeting, we will be meeting with PV to more fully understand the precise locations of concern as well as the processes that will govern the upcoming review of the Grampians Management Plan.

We are preparing a Climbing Management discussion report to help inform our conversations with PV.

We are working on the best ways to build our relationships with Traditional Owners which we feel is an integral part of moving forward.

Within the climbing community, we have hosted a change.org petition to demonstrate to Parks Victoria the number of people concerned by the bans. With 21,676 signatures, support was strong, thank you! On Wednesday 8th of May gyms in Victoria and South Australia will be hosting events to raise awareness, fundraise and educate climbers about issues that affect access. Make sure you head to your participating gym! Please follow updates from CliffCare and @climbforgrampians.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

Get informed

A Town Hall style session is coming to Natimuk’s Goatfest on 20th April in the Soldiers’  Memorial Hall. Here you can ask the presenters any questions that have been on your mind about the bans and CliffCare’s work.

Get educated

Gym workshops are coming to a climbing gym near you on May 8th, check out @climbforgrampians. Participate to get an understanding of best practices at the crag.
Ongoing workshops scheduled for gyms.

Get involved

If you have skills you think GAWG could use, get in touch via cliffcare@vicclimbing.org.au  Introduce yourself and your skills to get on our volunteer register.

Get generous

You can donate to CliffCare’s cause here.

Thanks,

GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP