Draft Reserve Management Plan Open for Comment – Update

Parks and Conservation have now released the dates for their information sessions in regard to their Draft Reserve Management Plan. You can sign up for one of the 4 sessions at https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/act-parks/information-sessions.

You can read more about this very important document below.

ACTEA is aiming to take this opportunity to get increased equestrian access to some parts of the Reserve system through this process so we are interested to hear where you would like to ride that you can’t at the moment.

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Its only taken three years but Parks & Conservation have finally released for public comment their Draft Reserve Management Plan. You can access the Draft at the government’s Yoursay website at https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/act-parks/canberra-nature-park

ACTEA were very involved in attending workshops, writing submissions and lobbying land managers during the development of this Plan and engaged in a lot of research on current studies on the impact of horses in reserves which were included in submissions. As a result ACTEA was told in 2016 that Parks would, once the new Plan was released, look at extending equestrian access to some additional reserves.

The Draft PoM just released contains 2 things of interest.

On p82 it says:

While balancing the needs of recreational horse riders with those of other users and the conservation of natural and cultural values, the Parks and Conservation Service will trial the provision of additional horse riding access on defined trails in a small number of Canberra Nature Park reserves. Proposals for new equestrian trails in Canberra Nature Park will consider such factors as:

reserve zoning

avoiding areas that have important values: for example, sensitive wildlife habitat, or threatened, rare or uncommon species

physical constraints such as grade, slope-alignment angle, soil type and soil moisture, type of tread construction, surfacing and drainage

trail design—which should focus on side-hill trail alignments with limited grades and frequent grade reversals to minimise soil erosion, muddiness and tread widening

connections with the existing horse trail network

avoiding conflict with other reserve users

horse and rider safety.

The reason they are being so careful is that there are still a large number of people, including numerous Park Care groups, who believe that the very presence of a horse is death to native plants and we are all going to have to work hard to win them over.

On p192 in relation to the Mt Taylor Reserve, the government has committed to explore opportunities for increased horse riding access. At the very least riders should be able to circumnavigate the whole of the Reserve. Other than that the Draft Plan seems to be silent on actual new trails but that is pretty much what we expected. The real work is ahead of us in the consultation phase.

ACTEA, of course would be interested to hear which reserves meeting the above criteria are priorities for the local horse riding community and any comments about existing routes in Reserves. It is interesting that Parks is not always across the trails in its own Reserves.

How can you help?

Getting involved in the information sessions when they are scheduled will be a good idea.

Writing submissions will also help. The original 2016 ACTEA submission has lots of useful material in it.

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