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NPWS Sustainable Cycling and Mountain Biking Workshop

Rob's picture

By Rob - Posted on 26 October 2009

NPWS Workshop Faces

As previously discussed (see Northern Beaches National Parks to pilot Sustainable MTB Access) today was the day for a "full day of consultation" which consisted of a NPWS facilitated workshop, "... to explore opportunities for sustainable cycling and mountain biking in the region.".

Pictured here you see the smiling faces after a full morning of discussion. We had reason to smile too, as the session was very useful, well organised and well mannered. The day consisted of a few presentations, splitting into groups for smaller discussion, whole group discussions and other brainstorming.

In the afternoon we visited a (rather wet) Bantry Bay and walked through the area discussing various issues. The good news here was that trail design and maintenance guru Glen Jacobs (from World Trail) saw nothing here that was a major challenge or problem.

I have to say the group was very lucky to have Glen there today as his experience really shone through. The NPWS staff seemed very enlightened by what he had to say, particularly when talking about how proper trail design can be used to effectively control rider behaviour. We are like sheep aparently - give us sweet single track and we'll follow it anywhere Eye-wink

We were also very fortunate to have Tony Scott (MTBA) and Nick Bowman (of the newly formed IMBA Australia) along with a couple of NPWS Directors (Carl Solomon and Bob Conroy). It would appear that a way forward can be found at a high level between these senior guys that will be beneficial to everyone working a 'grass roots' level - that includes everyone out there that has supported efforts publicised here on this site, and through others (such as HSMBA) and our local clubs. It has to be said, that without everyone's support this workshop could have never happened - thank you all!

As usually there isn't much in the way of planning that can be shared, but a couple of choice quotes from the 'Next steps' closing. NPWS are committed to "remain relevant" to the community and park visitors which obviously includes catering for the very popular and ever growing MTB base. They are also committed to, "selection, design & development of sustainable trails" in the future.

As usual, will keep everyone up to date with further progress, but going on this showing some good things are coming... although there is always a down side - it will be slow progress as always, but you already knew that, right?

P.S. Couple more images from the soggy site visit:

NPWS Workshop Site Visit (Bantry Bay) NPWS Workshop Site Visit (Bantry Bay)

Harry's picture

as one that enjoys the benefits of these efforts - thanks.

BT's picture

I love the following singletrack like sheep quote. Smiling

All very positive.

nrthrnben's picture

Thanks to all from Nobmob that where able to take part in this very constructive meeting.

I am amazed and impressed at the scale of this meeting, Glen Jacobs! IMBA! MTBA and NPWS Directors! All together making the Northern beaches a more enjoyable and sustainable place for Mountain biking.Am i dreaming? If so please dont wake me:)

Selection, design and development of sustainable trails

This is really good news, a very desired outcome, excellent work NPWS, NOBMOB and all others involved.

World Trail being involved at a consultation level means good things, he really knows how to build fun, relevant and sustainable trails!

snowkiwi's picture

World Trail, IMBA, NPWS directors all being involved is a great outcome, since with all that experience it will be truly sustainable for all involved. It should even be seen as such by the anti-biking league.

Great start to a long and successful relationship. Excellent work from all involved.

fer's picture

be a sheep as long as the shepherd feeds me with sweet single trails!!!!

Beeee!!!! Beeee!!!! Smiling

Well done to everyone involved!!!

Noel's picture


hawkeye's picture

Baaa! Smiling Awesome work, Rob.

nrthrnben's picture

Media release: 30 October 2009

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and a number of northern Sydney mountain bike groups met this week to work on ways to establish one of the finest urban mountain trail bike systems in Australia.

A key focus was addressing some of the immediate issues around impacts to parks following the explosion in the popularity of this type of outdoor recreation.

NPWS Regional Manager, Chris McIntosh said the meeting was held to discuss the impacts of mountain bike riding and to examine what opportunities exist for more sustainable and more enjoyable mountain bike tracks in Sydney’s northern bushland.

"It was a very positive and constructive meeting and it was obvious right from the start that the mountain bike groups were very serious about working with us to minimise rider impacts but also to encourage greater use, enjoyment and appreciation of some of the world’s best bushland areas," said Mr McIntosh.

"After an eye opening field inspection we agreed to develop a joint agreement that will outline some broad principles and some agreed strategies that we will all work on over the next five years.

"In developing a track network, careful consideration will be given to the interests of other user groups such as bushwalkers and horseriders, the high erosiveness of the soils, the cost of construction and maintenance, rehabilitation of damaged areas and the impacts on threatened species, rare vegetation types and significant Aboriginal sites."

In order to provide a sustainable yet diverse and challenging experience for cyclists will also require a region-wide approach, with linkages across the various public lands and involvement of other state and local government land managers.

"We agreed at the meeting to work together and to engage other land managers to develop a Mountain Trail Bike Strategy for northern Sydney, which will follow a process proposed by International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Australia, ensuring the continuing involvement of mountain bike riders while also utilising best practice in track design and construction to minimise environmental impacts.

"NPWS has successfully worked through similar issues with bike groups in the Royal National Park and Glenrock State Conservation Area and we are hoping we can do the same in northern Sydney," he said.

Mountain biking representatives from Dee Why, Manly, Warringah and Hornsby attended the workshop as well as peak bodies Mountain Bike Australia, IMBA and a number of NPWS staff.

Nicolas Bowman of IMBA was pleased with the meeting and the mutually agreed outcomes.

Rob's picture

The release is mostly positive, but there are 2 disturbing aspects for me:

1. "...will all work on over the next five years."

Not a good timeframe.

2. "...will also require a region-wide approach, with linkages across the various public lands and involvement of other state and local government land managers."

No, NPWS do not require the involvement of other land managers to make this a success. Of course the long term plan should be integration but the process will only get bogged down if it is made dependent on this. There are moves NPWS can take right now (today!) that will make for better riding with NPWS.

I have, of course, pointed this out to the NPWS staff at this meeting.

Alexd's picture

More thanks for doing the legwork..days off work etc ..Kudos !

Lenny_GTA's picture

If you pull it off with a five year time line, please tell me your secret. Weve been at it a lot longer than that and only just bearing the results in a big way. Five years to develop and implement trail strategies and actually do the work on the ground won't be too bad when you factor in budget and the NPWS animal.

To put it in perspective, it took 2 years up here to reopen the main walking route through Glenrock after the June 2007 storms that had the Pasha Bulka run aground. The most important thing is going to be making sure the strategies and planning is right and that no one is judged until there has been a chance to give the strategies a fair run at being implemented.

As for the second point, I agree initially it should be secondary, we have done the same thing with Glenrock. Long term (and its written in the draft POM) we will be looking for linkages elsewhere, but first and foremost, get the trails in the NP system in a workable and sustainable state. The rest will come from that.

Its important not to loose sight of the positives. The fact that this press release actually came out is a huge positive. Not long ago no one would have expected that.

Rob's picture

Yeah, but we've been at this for 18 months already! Since April '08. <sigh>

Whisperer's picture

The 18 months hard work are probably what enabled this landmark occasion to occur.
Well done, and keep looking to the positives!

edmond's picture

This is fantastic progress down a very long road. Whilst the MTB community & the NPWS can easily get distracted by the complexities and frustrations of government beurocracy we need to all support each other and keep our collective eyes on the prize.

I guess the good news is that once this is all done and official it should stay in place for many years to come.

Kudo's to the team representing us!

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