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Quad bikers trash national park track – DOC

A group of quad bike riders has caused extensive damage to a popular walking track in Arthur’s Pass National Park in Canterbury, crushing sensitive vegetation, trashing boardwalks and leaving a trail of empty alcohol cans in their wake.

The disappointing incident is a reminder for drivers to check and follow the rules before taking vehicles on to conservation land.

Department of Conservation Warranted Officer Lorna Luciani says DOC wants to speak to the group who were seen driving eight quad bikes on the Bealey Spur Track last Saturday (16 March), which is partly in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

The track is popular for both day and overnight walkers. It climbs through native beech forest and crosses pristine sub-alpine terraces with excellent panoramic views over the upper Waimakariri River before ending at the historic musterer’s hut built in 1925.

Vehicles, including quad bikes and mountain bikes, are not permitted on this track.

Lorna says it’s hugely disappointing to see this inconsiderate and anti-social behaviour, impacting both other visitors and the natural environment.

It is estimated the resulting damage to the track and natural surroundings will cost approximately $5,600 to repair.

“Repairing this damage takes our staff away from other critical conservation work, and it’s pretty frustrating for them to see their previous effort and commitment on the job trashed by careless people.

“A DOC ranger visited the scene this week, and said the riders had clearly left the formed walking track in several locations causing considerable damage to native vegetation and a fragile wetland area.

“Many live tree roots on and next to the track were broken or had a ring of bark removed, and ‘corduroy’ logs used to protect boggy areas from foot traffic have been uprooted.

“At one point the quad bikers travelled off the track through known great spotted kiwi/roroa territory.”

Lorna says the tramping track is now littered with tens of thousands of loose rocks dislodged from the track surface, creating numerous trip hazards for other users. Several boardwalks were also damaged.

“We are just relieved they did not also try to get through the large wetland and kettle lake area below Bealey Spur Hut.”

Lorna thanked members of the public for informing DOC of this incident, and especially for cleaning up the litter left behind.

“We’re asking those who were riding the quad bikes, and other hikers who saw them, to come forward and talk to us, please contact arthurspassvc@doc.govt.nz,” Lorna says.

If the public has any information about this incident they are urged to provide any information to DOC – and it will be kept strictly anonymous.

“We are grateful to those people who are vigilant about protecting our natural spaces and encourage anyone seeing behaviour like this to report it via their local visitor centre, or on the DOC Hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).”

Driving a vehicle in any part of the National Park that is not a formed road or campsite is an offence under the Arthur’s Pass National Park bylaws and carries the penalty of an infringement fee of $400 and a maximum fine of $800.

Anyone convicted of an offence against 39(1)(e) of the Conservation Act 1987: knowingly and without authority “interferes with or damages in any way historic or natural features of or on any conservation area” is subject to: in the case of an individual, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both.

 

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