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

May8 ClimbForGrampians

Today is the day people! ClimbForGrampians. All the listed climbing businesses in Victoria and South Australia have come together to help raise funds and awareness around the access work happening for the Grampians. Get on down to one of the gyms or buy yourself something nice. Today is also the official launch date of the ACCESS IS NO ACCIDENT – CliffCare Education Project. This is not just about the Grampians. This is about what we need to do as a user group for sustainable climbing into the future in the Grampians or wherever else we may climb. CliffCare would like to extend a huge thanks to all who have been involved in organizing this and the accompanying education campaign launch of posters and workshops and to all the climbers taking part

ACCESS IS NO ACCIDENT. Developed by Tracey Skinner (@CliffCare), Simon Madden & Ross Taylor (@verticallifemag), Florence Seow & Indie Ladan (@northsideboulders), the campaign highlights actions that you can take to minimise your impact as a climber on the environment and help protect your access to crags. Along with the poster launch there will be workshop sessions at a number of gyms on crag etiquette. The workshops have been developed by Florence Seow, they are free and run by volunteers.

For every person who climbs at one of the participating gyms listed below, $5 will be donated to CliffCare.

Show up and show your support!

See below for a list of participating gyms and details. Each participating gym’s in-house event activities may vary. Contact the gym for further details.

Participating Venues:
Adelaide’s Bouldering Club

Bayside Rock

Bogong Equipment*

Cliffhanger Indoor Rock Climbing Gym

Climbing Anchors*

Gravity Worx

Hardrock Climbing

The Lactic Factory

Northside Boulders

North Walls Indoor Climbing

The Rock Adventure Centre

Urban Climb Collingwood

The Wilderness Shop*

9 Degrees Lane Cove
*Participating retailers donating %10 of retail sales revenue.

AccessIsNoAccident_FA1000x1000SM_WEB8

All rights reserved © 2019 CliffCare. Illustration by Indie Ladan of Northside Boulders. Content by Tracey Skinner, Simon Madden, Ross Taylor and Florence Seow.

CHECK IT OUT HERE: https://cliffcare.org.au/about/education/cliffcare-education-project/poster-campaign/

GRAMPIANS & CHALK CLEANUPS – A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS

There have been some recent conversations on social media in light of climber impacts and how the community could manage them as we move forward. Many of them make sense and have been used successfully in other parts of the world. We just need to take on board a few aspects not previously considered. And for the time being, hold off those brushes on buildup.

Chalk  buildup and it’s removal is a hot topic on many social media forums. Advice I have received suggests that people do not undertake it at this present time. I have explained a little further below. There will be a time and place for this but let’s do it the right way.

Chalk use and its impact and the conversation around removal has been something that people feel is a very immediate action they could take. Stewardship has always been an integral focus of CliffCare and throughout the years have worked with land managers in this respect. Following a conversation on a social media group about a chalk cleanup, and wanting to further encourage stewardship in the community, I contacted the Rock Art Specialist in the Grampians a while ago to discuss the best way to go about this.

The Climbers method is  scrubbing. Chalk buildup requires scrubbing. A lot of it. With water and maybe some kind of cleaning solution. The issue here is that what lies beneath the chalk could be sensitive be it cultural or environmental and the removal of the chalk buildup could cause damage.  In a park like the Grampians which contains a lot of Cultural Heritage we need to take extra care. Conservation work that has taken place on these kind of impacts previously is a specialised process to ensure that further damage doesn’t occur in the removal.

There also isn’t enough known about the chemical impacts of chalk on either cultural heritage or environmental values. As we move into a space and a process of education and understanding, we need to take this on board. The conversation I had was a positive one. Those cleanups will need to be done but we do need to do it the right way and with the right skills. Let’s be involved in this in an informed way.

Stay tuned in this space.  If anyone would like to be a head research guru in this area, drop me a line cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

In the meantime, minimize your use of it and gently brush any residue so it doesn’t lead to buildup.

Grampians Update 18 March 2019

We have been communicating regularly with PV over the past week and a half to obtain clarification regarding the closures. Further information provided by PV to some climbers have led many to believe that climbing could occur in the wider SPAs outside of the 8 key focus sites, if certain rules were followed but ranger actions on the ground and conflicting information from other PV offices showed this to be otherwise.

We can now provide the most recent email statement provided by Simon Talbot, COO of Parks Victoria. From our understanding, conditions are still as noted in previous statements but we have highlighted one clarification in Simon Talbot’s statement around infringements for climbing in SPAs.

*****

The Grampians National Park Management Plan outlines the Special Protected Areas that have been in place since 2003 where rock climbing is prohibited and hiking and picnicking is permitted. The recent maps released also include an additional 29 protected areas making up 1.2 per cent of the National Park. Protected Areas are assigned due to their cultural significance or flora and fauna values.

The increase in activity and changes in climbing techniques have impacted irreplaceable cultural and environmental assets to a level where enforcement is necessary to preserve these special areas. Parks Victoria is currently undertaking enforcement activities to prevent rock climbing at eight key locations where signage is installed.  Parks Victoria has a legislative obligation to protect these special values. At all times, we ask for your support in leaving no trace, using clean climbing techniques and encouraging your peers to do the same.

In broader Special Protected Areas, outside those eight key locations, Parks Victoria is sharing the information materials on rock climbing and undertaking enforcement activity relating to other activities not permitted in any National Park including cutting or damaging vegetation (for instance to make or enhance tracks), lighting fires outside of designated fireplaces, depositing litter, interfering with Aboriginal cultural heritage such as rock art or any damage to rock faces such as drilling holes. We are not enforcing no rock climbing activity in broader Special Protected Areas at this stage and will communicate if anything changes.

We acknowledge the physical, social and economic benefits that climbing brings to our communities and understand the rock climbing community cares passionately about the Grampians National Park.

Over the coming months, Parks Victoria will be reviewing the Grampians National Park Management Plan. A Stakeholder Reference Group will be established where Parks Victoria will meet with affected partners, Licenced Tourism Operators, stakeholder groups and local businesses – including the rock climbing community. Special Protection Area boundaries may change.

Simon Talbot
Parks Victoria – COO

*****

Our understanding at this stage is that:

  • Rangers will issue fines if you climb  at the eight key focus sites where signage has been put up
  • Rangers can inform you that you should not climb in the SPAs outside of the eight focus sites (blue squares on the first map issued by PV) as part of an education process, but will not fine you. You will be fined if you litter, cut, remove or damage vegetation, light fires outside of designated fireplaces, interfere with any cultural heritage or rock art in these areas,deface or drive off track. These rules and penalties are applied across the GNP, not just the SPAs.
  • Further assessments of other sites within the SPAs will be undertaken. If areas are deemed too sensitive and are to be closed, before this happens there will be ‘education’ and information provided to the community before signage and enforcement occurs.

We are investigating further the reports that signage has occurred in a non key focus site and will keep you up to date.
Some previous messaging also noted that damage to vegetation through the use of drop mats would be an offence. We would suggest that the use of bouldering mats is confined to rocky and non vegetated areas.

The messaging coming from PV has not aligned with information varying between Head Office and local staff members on the ground in the Grampians, and this has made it increasingly difficult to address the issues that we have been informed has led to the bans (i.e., cultural heritage and environmental protection). There have been some positive discussions about moving forward with the Stakeholder Reference Group that PV are initiating, and what the working group would like to achieve from this. The working groups hope is that the Stakeholder reference group is being established so that other sites within the wider SPA   areas can be investigated further in collaboration with us. The working group will continue to engage with PV, bringing with it the concerns of the wider climbing community and continue to ensure our involvement in these discussions and the feedback we have provided, is taken on board.

For us, the protection of cultural and environmental values within the park is still key and we don’t want to lose sight of some of the issues that have brought us to this place of change. We have much in the pipeline with regards to education for the climbing community that we will be sharing in the months to come. We hope this will  contribute to ensuring sustainable climbing and bouldering in the park. We also continue to work on building relationships with Traditional Owners. We continue to work on understanding the legislative framework that determines the rights and responsibilities of user groups to access the park,  both now and into the future.We will continue to do as we are doing now: working towards greater transparency in decision-making processes from land managers, ensuring that decisions are fair and right, reasons for closures are justified,  and that the cultural and natural values of that park are respected throughout this process.

Please be assured that we will update you on our progress, and will continue to work toward greater certainty regarding access for climbers in the Grampians. We make a commitment to providing the climbing community with accurate updates, sharing  information that we feel is reliable and can be confidently shared with the community. CliffCare and the VCC remain committed to collaboration with all parties and to ensuring that the climbing community’s concerns are represented as we navigate through the challenges resulting from these closures.

STAY IN THE LOOP

Keep up to date by signing up to the CliffCare website blog. You will receive each update direct into your inbox. Just click on sign up on front page.

Follow CliffCare’s Facebook page and share our updates far and wide.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

PETITION
The Grampians Access Working Group has created a petition.

PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE TO YOUR NETWORKS.

  • Most important: respect all bans that have been put in place by Parks Victoria. If you hear of anyone who is planning to climb in any of these areas, please inform them of the bans.
  • If you have skills that you think might be useful to the VCC, become a volunteer and assist our efforts. Contact cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au
  • You can become a member of the VCC here. The VCC is the organisation that administers CliffCare.
  • Donate directly to CliffCare and support our efforts in advocacy, environmental projects and education.
  • Share you concerns with your local MP via a letter, email or phone call. Consider sending a letter to the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio and Emma Kealy, local MP for Lowan (includes the GNP). In this letter you should highlight: your involvement in climbing, how the ban affects you and your community, and any concerns you might have regarding the lack of consultation by PV with the climbing community prior to introducing the bans. We think it is helpful for climbers to acknowledge the value and significance of environmental and cultural concerns, and that through proper consultation, we would like to work towards a win-win solution for all stakeholders.

If you have other questions that you feel are not answered here, please feel free to email us.

Grampians Access Working Group – New Map Statement

Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG)
New Map Statement

Parks Victoria (PV) has now released a set of maps that show the extent of new Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd. Alongside the already identified SPAs in the Western end (Victoria Range), these newly outlined areas cover a substantial amount of the climbing sites in the park.

There is still some confusion and a lack of clarity around some of the information presented to the climbing community and there are answers we don’t yet have to give you. We are, however, committed to continuing to work hard and thoughtfully to bring you further information.

The information we currently have:

  • PV will be implementing the Special Protection Areas at eight key focus sites. These sites are as follows: Gondwanaland, the Gallery, Millennium Caves, Billimina Area, Billywing Buttress, Cave of Man Hands, Little Hands Cave and Manja Area. PV has informed us that these sites have been closed as rock climbing activity has resulted in impacts to environmental and cultural values and evidence of damage has been assessed and documented. Signage will be placed at these locations by mid-March that explain the reasons why and the law that pertains to it. Penalties will occur at these sites if closures are ignored.
  • PV has noted that, while immediate action is required to address current impacts, a review of the Grampians National Park Management Plan including SPAs is needed. They have noted their intention to work with the climbing community via a Stakeholder Reference group. Members of the the Grampians Access Working Group (GAWG) will be part of this. This group will provide insight and evidence, of the importance of a diverse range of climbing opportunities in the park and will seek to identify if there are any issues of environmental or cultural significance where climbing could impact. The work of the reference group will then help to guide how PV manages climbing access across the park including that in the current SPAs.

GAWG are committed and hopeful that this  map release is the beginning of a collaborative process with land managers and the Traditional Owners of Gariwerd and that a nuanced approach will create an effective access framework that works for all.

As explained above, GAWG are working on many of the concerns that climbers have noted. We are very mindful of the sensitivities involved and wish to be as respectful as possible to all parties. We would also ask the climbing community to be patient while our team of dedicated volunteers work on immediate issues as well as long term sustainable climbing options. It deserves a well considered and thoughtful approach and we intend to continue on this path. We are committed to sharing information that is helpful to the community rather than unsubstantiated comment.

Climbers care deeply about Cultural Heritage and acknowledge the strong connection Traditional Owners have to Country. They are sensitive to environmental values in the park and we believe that with the right information provided to us, we can be a great ally. We would welcome the opportunity to work together through a consultative and collaborative approach to climbing access in the Grampians National Park/Gariwerd.

What can you do to help?

  • Most important: respect all bans that have been put in place by Parks Victoria. If you hear of anyone who is planning to climb in any of these areas, please inform them of the ban.
  • If you have skills that you think might be useful to the VCC, become a volunteer and assist our efforts. Contact cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au
  • You can become a member of the VCC here: https://vicclimb.org.au/join/. The VCC is the organisation that supports CliffCare, or you can donate to CliffCare directly here: https://cliffcare.org.au/about/donate/

If you have other questions that you feel are not answered here, please feel free to email: cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au


Thank you
GRAMPIANS ACCESS WORKING GROUP

 

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-1

 

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-2

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-3

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019-4

 

 

Grampians National Park rock climbing update February 2019

Grampians Access meeting – Feb 2019

The VCC and CliffCare, along with 6 of the members of the newly created Grampians Access working  & technical working groups, will attend a meeting with Parks Victoria on 12th February.

As noted by land managers – ‘The purpose of this meeting is to discuss upcoming changes to rock climbing in the Grampians National park and surrounds, and confirm next steps and opportunities to work together’.

Attending Climbing Representatives:

Paula Toal – VCC President
Tracey Skinner – VCC/CliffCare Access & Environment Officer
Steve Monks – Victorian Climbing Rep
Adam Demmert – Climbing and Developer Representative
Simon Weill – Bouldering and Developer Representative
Adam Merrick – Western Victorian Climbing Club (WVCC) Rep and Education advisor
Ross TaylorClimbing community Communications/Media (Vertical Life)
Nina Scott Bohanna – VCC  PR and Communication advisor

We are in no doubt that this will be a challenging process. We look forward to some clarity from land managers around the current status of climbing in the park and surrounds, and the opportunity to collaborate  to ensure that not only are park and cultural values protected, but the rights of climbers as a legitimate user group are taken into account.

I will have further information available soon on the Grampians Access working group and its members. If you would like to offer a particular set of skills or help out in any way that you feel could be beneficial to Access, we also have a technical working group. Drop me a line cliffcare@vicclimb.org.au

Tracey Skinner
VCC/CliffCare Access & Environment Officer

Clean Up Australia – Grampians Volunteer call out

It’s coming up to that time again. The Clean Up day in the Grampians National Park. We’re looking for volunteers to help out on the day. If you have a few hours to spare, drop me a line. I will have more information from Parks Victoria closer to the date. For a little info on last years event see here https://cliffcare.org.au/2018/03/19/access-environment-report-march-2018/

 

clean up australiagrampians