Kepler biking feedback flood expected

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 06/07/2013

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No submissions have been lodged on opening the Kepler Track to mountainbikers, but the Department of Conservation expects a flood of "good quality" public feedback before submissions close.

The subject has run red hot on social media and tramping and mountainbike forums, and Fairfax's Stuff website, with many trampers saying mountainbikers are dangerously selfish, destroy tracks and would force them to look over their shoulders every five seconds to ensure their safety.

Many mountainbikers argue they are courteous and careful, and would respect shared access on one of New Zealand's great walks.

DOC Southland community support manager Sarah Murray said opening the Kepler to mountainbikers was just one component of the conservation management strategy review but acknowledged it had generated much discussion.

The huge interest was one of the reasons DOC was seeking public feedback. "I'm expecting there will be a lot of submissions and they will be of a very high quality."

Ms Murray said Fiordland National Park was an area of huge national significance, and submissions from people all over the country were expected.

"As well individuals, we'll be expecting submissions from national groups such as Federated Mountain Clubs, Federated Farmers, and Forest & Bird. As mountainbiking has become very popular, we also expect submissions from mountainbiking clubs, so it's feedback from across the whole spectrum really."

Opening the Heaphy Track within the Kahurangi National Park to mountainbikers between May 1 and September 30 also started with the same review process. However, more steps were involved at Fiordland National Park.

"There needs to be a National Park Management Plan change.

"So what we're doing is asking people their views . . . and, if there is public support for that, we'll undertake a partial review of the National Park Management Plan, which would lead to a plan change."

Public submissions on the review will close on September 13.

grant.bryant@stl.co.nz

Go to the Department of Conservation website, open the "getting involved" tab and choose "current consultations" option to make a submission, or ask at a DOC office for a submission form.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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