Your Mountains Need You
New plans by the NSW State Government for the Snowies and Kosciuszko National Park should have all of Australia worried. Make a submission so that your voice can be heard.
Words: Jed Coppa
Images: John Lin
There are few natural places of more importance to Australia than the Snowy Mountains. It’s home to our highest mountain, our most extensive alpine area, and one of our largest, most precious, and most-visited national parks. It’s wild, beautiful … and popular, drawing people from across the country and beyond. It’s a special place. And right now, it’s under threat. The NSW state government currently has two different plans for the Snowies out on public exhibition; both have troubling elements.
One is the Special Activation Precinct Masterplan. It outlines a new regional approach for a future with a much more developed Snowy Mountains. Most of this growth takes place outside the national park, particularly around Jindabyne which will grow into a much larger year-round tourist destination.
The other is the Amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management. It proposes a series of seemingly small alterations to the rules governing what can and can’t happen in our state’s most fragile national park. These teensy little sentences seek to dramatically change what is and isn’t allowed in the national park and substantially increase development.
Submissions were previously to close on the August 12th, but they’ve been extended to August 23rd. I know there’s always something on exhibition needing your feedback, but these changes are really important. If you visit and cherish the NSW alpine areas at all, I strongly encourage you to get your head around what’s being proposed and find the time to sit down and bash out a response.
Let’s be real, this government has approved environmentally destructive projects in bushland conservation areas before, so your contribution possibly won’t change anything. But at least in years to come you won’t be wandering through the Snowies listening to the pounding of helicopters echoing through the valleys, remembering that you sat idly by …
Look, I get it, the SAP masterplan is long, and the Plan of Management Amendment is boring. Luckily, the hard work in synthesising the plans has been done for you. If you want cheat sheets on what’s being proposed, check out these resources:
– Major new developments planned for Kosciuszko National Park: Cam Walker read the draft amendment to the Kosciuszko Plan of Management so you don’t have to.
– Planning for a less snowy Snowies: Shameless plug for myself here. I explain what exactly a ‘Special Activation Precinct’ is and outline what I see as the good and the really, really bad of the changes.
– Submission guide for the snowy mountains Special Activation Precinct and the amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management: The amazing National Parks Association submission guide is a rally cry for action against these changes. Good luck reading what they have to say and not writing a lengthy submission to both proposals.
I’m not going to bombard you with any more information from the plans; the three links above tell you all you need to know. What I will say is that if you’ve read the epic two part Wilderness Lost piece in Wild #178 and #179 you’ll know that the changes that will be wrought by these two plans do not exist in a vacuum. They are part of a concerted effort to package up our most beautiful, unique and popular national parks into a marketable commodity for the benefit of luxury tourism operators and their customers.
The grossest—in every sense of the word—example of this is the plan to allow commercial helicopters to ferry people to and from the villages at Charlotte Pass, Thredbo and Perisher. If you visit the Snowy Mountains at all, you’ll know of the special stillness of the place on a blue-sky spring day or the buzzing and gurgling activity of midsummer. Whether you bushwalk, mountain bike, trail run, kayak, camp, caravan, resort ski, backcountry ski, apres ski, snowboard, splitboard, snowshoe or toboggan, your experience and enjoyment of our alpine region will be negatively affected by allowing commercial chopper flights into the national park.
Our special places are just as affected by the noise pollution of buses on the Summit Trail or choppers landing all over the place as they are by more and bigger carparks to service ever sprawling resorts.
The growth in people visiting and enjoying Kosciuszko is a wonderful thing, and I believe that it is high time the government think about how we can manage the flow of people to the Snowies better. But the plans they’re putting forward will destroy the very thing that people go there to enjoy. There are better ways to avoid Kosciusko National Park becoming a victim of its own popularity. I’m sure you’ve got some ideas, so please, share them with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the Department of Regional NSW and tell them that you won’t stand for selling out our national parks.
Don’t forget, there are two separate and different proposals on exhibition, so please take the time to respond to both. Your mountains need you!
Jed Coppa is a skier, surveyor, transport enthusiast and amateur historian living on Wiradjuri country. He runs a mostly transport focused blog at jedsetter.com, a history podcast called Stories from Sydney, is currently producing a documentary about our Inland Waterways, and occasionally tweets @jedsetterau