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Track Realignments Process… it’s a long road

In the Vision Survey undertaken in 2017, members were asked

“Are there any sections of Track which, if an alternative is available, you think should be realigned?”

While two-thirds of respondents indicated that realignments of the Track were not needed – 31% felt strongly that the Track should be taken off gravel roads and 4WD tracks where possible.

In some circumstances, use of roads as part of the Track is unavoidable. Constraints include: local flora and fauna, private property, Dieback disease and water catchment areas.

However, the list of suggested realignments was compiled along with input from BTF staff and volunteers.

A small SV team set about walking them all over several seasons to determine where realignment wasn’t necessary but improved erosion control – with regular maintenance – would be sufficient. The final list, about 75% of the original, included track sections in Perth Hills, Wellington, Blackwood and Frankland Districts.

Based on requests made to P&WS before the vision survey, approvals were granted for three realignments to bypass severely eroded track between Helena and Waalegh. They were constructed during 2017/2018 and have made a great improvement to walkers’ enjoyment.

Realignment approvals must be submitted using DBCA’s Disturbance Approval System (DAS). From the DAS opening statement “The objective of the DAS is to inform the assessment of risk to environmental, social and economic values of a proposed activity on lands managed by the DBCA. The purpose is to ensure approved activities are consistent with departmental objectives, associated management plans, land use categories, and to remove or minimise impacts to As Low As is Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).”

To speed the process two SVs, who volunteer in the department’s Recreation and Trails Unit, have been trained in submitting online DAS proposals. They soon discovered the necessary complexity in gaining the first approval. Time spent with local P&WS staff, particularly Flora and Fauna Conservation Officers and Regional Aboriginal Engagement, resulted in desktop and field survey reports that were attached to the DAS.

In early October approval was received for the first proposal, a short realignment in the Quarram Nature Reserve between Boat Harbour and Parry Beach. That realignment was constructed in early November, the final part of the South Coast stabilisation work under the NRM Grant.

Preliminary work has started on DAS inputs for Perth Hills and Wellington District realignments, while further DAS proposals will start for three in Frankland. One Frankland realignment will move the track off Ficifolia Road, vastly improving walker safety.

Almost all work for the planned realignments has been, and will be, performed by support and sectional volunteers.

Construction will start in 2021. In the meantime, the Foundation’s volunteers will continue with their maintenance and other project work to improve the Track in line with our Vision for the next 10-20 years.