Campfires at Arapiles – Keep it in the campground please.

 

Just another post on that old chestnut – campfires. It’s all been said before. CliffCare and Friends of Arapiles as well as many members of the climbing community are working together to try and get the information out there. This recent campfire was discovered last week at the Good Morning Arapiles boulder. Quite a large and recent campfire as well as a half burnt  log which  I can only assume was removed from the campfire at the end of the evening. Signage is at the campground. But best it be said again. Campfires at Mt Arapiles are:

  1. Only allowed in the actual campground.
  2. Only allowed in the campground and in the official metal fireplaces
  3. Only allowed between 1st May and 31st October. (No fires between 1st Nov & 30th April)
  4. Firewood collection is not allowed in the park.

Put a jacket on if you are cold.

Various reasons as to why – the main one being environmental impact. Especially so in an isolated park such as Mt Arapiles.  At this point in time, people are still allowed to have campfires, albeit in the campground. It would be great if this could continue but if the incidences of campfires around the park continues to grow, we could find ourselves out of luck.

There have been numerous posts on this. A couple that I can link to immediately:

https://cliffcare.org.au/2011/07/30/wood-fires-at-arapiles/

Mt Arapiles Campground Host

For those who happened to be braving the heat at Arapiles over the Christmas to New Year break, you would have seen the Campground Host, Lee, in place – centre  in the lower Pines.  The Campground Host program is a new collaboration between Parks Victoria, CliffCare and Friends of Arapiles. With less Ranger presence in the park (yes, yes…some would say this is good) many of the issues that impact the Campground and Park are inevitably going to become more so. This program will allow us as climbers and users of the park to have much more of a hand in keeping an eye on things and educating those who might not be so clear on what some of the rules are and, more importantly why they are there.

From the feedback and experience Lee received in the week she was there, it seems that the Host was a welcome and appreciated addition to the campgrounds.  This program is a work in progress for us and much of the feedback will be used to develop a plan that works for the park and for its users.  A few points are listed below on some of the situations that Lee had to deal with.  As she noted, diplomacy is a key skill to dealing with people.

  • 4 cases of dogs in the park. Some walking on leads some tied on long leads to cars. (no dogs or cats allowed at any time in the park, campgrounds inclluded)
  • 2 cases of campfires as well as some enquiries re being able to have a fire (campfires are not allowed at Arapiles from November to April)
  • 5 cases of campers set up in the day visitor area
  • 3 administrations of first aid

As well there were numerous enquiries about the weather in the days ahead, where they could get various supplies, handling a few camper complaints about NYE party noise and general enquiries about the Campground Host role.  Feeback was positive.

I would like to thank Lee for being our very first ‘host guinea pig’ and for handling each and every situation with diplomacy for a very positive outcome. She enjoyed the experience and has put her hand up for more. Thankyou Lee!  I am still looking for more Campground Hosts at Arapiles so if you think it might be something you would like to try, please drop me a line at cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

Wood Fires at Arapiles

campfire arapiles

For many, on a cold night there is nothing better than sitting around a campfire.  Although climbing into a warm sleeping bag is pretty tempting.  Granted, depending on the size of your tent and the amount of friends you have, it’s probably not as easy to be so communal as the campfire option although  I’m sure there are a few people who would debate that though!

To campfire or not to campfire – that is the burning question. With the recent announcement by Louise Shepherd that the Arapiles Advisory committee were going to recommend that the no campfire season be extended, there were a few unhappy campers voicing their opinions on Chockstone. While Chockstone is not the centre of the climbing universe by any means it can give you some idea of the thoughts that are out there in the climbing community.

CURRENT CAMPFIRE RULES AT ARAPILES

Light fires only in fireplaces provided. If possible, use a fuel stove.

Collecting of firewood is prohibited in the park

No Campfires between 1 Nov and 30 April

These are rules that have been in place at Arapiles for many years and are signposted

For those who don’t frequent Chockstone or do but missed the thread, which as a forum, can be very easy to do here is the announcement and some further response from Louise:

“This week the Arapiles Advisory Committee recommended that Parks Victoria reduce wood fuel campfires at Arapiles to 3 months annually: June to August. Previously wood fuel campfires were allowed for 6 months from May to October. The decision was made after 6 months of deliberation, and after hearing a submission from Parks Victoria on biodiversity values on public land. Parks Victoria officers pointed out to the committee that every scientific study cites a direct correlation between fallen wood on the ground with increased biodiversity. In a small park like Arapiles (1000 acres), firewood gathering has an enormous impact on biodiversity – birds, reptiles, invertebrates and flora.”

Louise’s points

Regarding Arapiles, it’s visitor use and visitor habits:
Arapiles is a very small park (1000 acres).
There are a large number of visitors (80,000 visitor days/year).
A large proportion of those visitors collect wood from the park (despite regulations stating that firewood must be brought into the park).
Many visitors have inappropriately large fires with firewood collected from the park.
Many visitors make fires in the fuel stove only area, and create dozens of new fire places.

Regarding biodiversity:
Western Victoria has only 15% of land set aside as public reserves.
Most of those reserves represent a narrow range of EVCs (ecological vegetation communities), and many EVCs are very poorly reserved.
For example, native grasslands and grassy woodlands have been 99.5% depleted from the original 2 million hectares of lowland grasslands of south-eastern Australia.
Mt Arapiles has a small but significant remnant of native grassland and grassy woodland.
Many grassland, grassy woodland and woodland species are in decline across western Victoria, including birds, reptiles, mammals, insects and amphibians.
Biodiversity is compromised and depleted by firewood collection.