General threat to Heli-boating !

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[b]This is an appeal for help on behalf of all paddlers.[/b]

Hi all

DOC is currently drafting their "General Policies". There's one for the Conservation Act and one for the National Parks Act. The old NPA GP is from 1983, there's never been a Conservation Act GP before. They are very important documents.. in future all conservancy strategies and national park plans must conform to the General Policies. According to one of the lecturers in Parks and Rec at Lincoln Uni, these are the most important documents DOC has ever drafted.

Despite DOC being required by the Conservation Act to "foster recreation" , neither General Policy has a section on Recreation at all. All there is, is a section on Visitors, with a brief few sentences which are not particularly encouraging for paddling, especially heli-boating.

[b]National Parks Act General Policy:[/b]
[i]8.6 (b) Vehicle use and other forms of transport should be actively discouraged in those places where it is not provided for in management plans.

Powered aircraft (including, but not limited to, fixed-wing, ultra-light,helicopters, gyrocopters and model airplanes):
8.6 (c) Management plans may provide for the issue of a concession for landing,hovering and take-off of aircraft, where this is compatible with the outcomes planned for a place and subject to conditions on their use to minimise adverse effects.

Non-powered watercraft (including, but not limited to, sailing boats of all types and sizes, windsurfers or sailboards, waka, mokihi, rowboats, canoes, kayaks (including sea-kayaks) and rafts):
8.6 (j) Management plans may provide for non-powered watercraft, where this is compatible with the outcomes planned for a place and subject to
conditions on their use to minimise adverse effects.[/i]

[b]The Conservation Act GP is even blunter, it says only this:[/b]
[i]9.6 (b) Vehicle use and other forms of transport should be actively discouraged in those places where it is not provided for in conservation management
strategies.[/i]

So, in contravention of the Conservation Act, the default DOC attitude is "actively discourage". Planners may provide for use by paddlers, but don't have to, so this would seem to be the exception not the rule.

It is difficult to imagine anything ever stopping us jumping on a river from a road or a track. But it is quite conceivable that when the likes of the Westland Conservancy do their next strategy, we'll have to fight merely to retain helicopter access to the the "traditional" Hokitika and Whataroa heli rivers, let alone ad hoc trips into rarely or never before used put-ins.

The worst worst affected National Park is probably Kahurangi. All rivers there are at risk, especially the Golden Bay rivers and the North Branch of the Mokihinui, which is getting close to the proposed Tasman wilderness area. The draft Kahurangi plan already proposes to '"limit" heli access on the "border" of the wilderness area, without defining either "limit" or "border". It is not only helicopter access to consider.. the plan proposes removing huts which are of value to paddlers caught in Karamea floods. If the directive to planners is to "actively discourage" paddling, we don't have an argument to retain such huts.

[b]What can you do ?[/b]
All interested parties are encouraged to submit their views on the draft. The NZRCA will be submitting of course.. but the exec are just one small group of people. Have your own say too. There will be many local issues we are unaware of and many different angles on the subject.

- Submissions are due December 19
- Draft Policies and the submission forms:
- and tell your friends !

Theres a few pages to read but no worries if you're in a hurry: Page 46 in the NPA GP and page 52 in the CA GP are the only ones that matter.