Mt Dandy trail saga and PV land management

Plankosaurus

Spongeplank Dalepants
Most vics here are probably aware by now of the constant battle between "rogue" builders and Parks Vic up in the Mt Dandenong area, and things have escalated all the way to herald sun articles in the last week or so so i figured it warranted a thread for those that arent on Farcebook and keeping up to date there.

Last week the HS ran an article about a rogue trail builder that had been fined some $1800 odd after being caught building an illegal trail.
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This week we've seen another article with some counter points from the YRMTB and LDTR clubs (which is surprisingly awesome, because herald sun)
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Personally, i have to fence sit a little here. I'm not a fan of PV after a few things i've seen and i strongly disagree with heavy handed tactics like those fines, but being a club member and sometimes trail builder i get that we have to work with them and that there is absolutely zero benefit to anyone in sprouting off excessively about them. It's a tough one because we want more trails and we want more freedom and this is being actively stifled by PV. Some of their reasoning might be justified, but i cant help thinking that it's mostly bollocks.

What gets me pissy though, is how this stifling of works is hurting both sides. rogue builders are getting out there and causing PV to have to clean up after them because thems the rules apparently. but if they allowed more freedom in building then builders could get it all out of their system in the places that PV want them instead of where they dont want them. and think of all the trail clearing works they wouldnt have to do if builders were taking ownership of trails and being allowed to get out there and fix stuff? I just had a recon ride through lysty, there's multiple trees that have been down long enough to cause well worn b lines around them despite the trails being closed for months. i get that things have been busy, but there cant be more than a days work in it for one person, and i'm sure there would be multiple quilified volunteers that would be happy to lend a hand and get it done for nothing if they were asked or even just allowed to get out there without filling out a pile of paperwork. Same applies for the still closed silvan network that by all accounts is in a much worse state.

I've heard also of some trails out ballarat way that are earmarked for closure soon too? and then theres all these DJ parks that are being bulldozed by local councils recently. It feels like theres an us vs them issue starting to escalate, and its not going to benefit anyone.

Theres a lot of clever cookies here, I'm wondering if any of them have ever considered trying to form an advocacy group to consolidate the voices of the various clubs and user groups? Its been explained to me that we all seem to be fighting little battles of our own, but never really tackling things together even though we're all probably more or less on the same page.


...also, if anyone wants to help out the fella thats at the heart of this latest little saga, someone has started a gofundme for him. He's a nice dude, but jaded as all hell with PV (if what i hear is accurate regarding how rock climbers have been treated, he's probably well justified in that too)
 

cokeonspecialtwodollars

Fartes of Portingale
Personally I think that you're best to form an advocacy group as a subcommittee of the club, this way you get to leverage the name of our national sporting body and tick off insurance and the like for volunteers undergoing trail building/maintenance. The biggest challenge may be to herd all of the current pirate builders under the umbrella but once that is done you'll be able to present a unified front and perhaps even look at fund raising and trail sponsorship to help cover maintenance costs.
 

Plankosaurus

Spongeplank Dalepants
Personally I think that you're best to form an advocacy group as a subcommittee of the club, this way you get to leverage the name of our national sporting body and tick off insurance and the like for volunteers undergoing trail building/maintenance. The biggest challenge may be to herd all of the current pirate builders under the umbrella but once that is done you'll be able to present a unified front and perhaps even look at fund raising and trail sponsorship to help cover maintenance costs.
LDTR currently has an advocacy group, but the focus is on Lysterfield and they're struggling enough as it is to get things done there, let alone turning eyes outwards. There's been years of backing and forthing to try and get moderate expansion approved, and a desperately needed reworking of the skills park.


Funnily enough, not long after suggesting it here and Farcebook, someone I know contacted me and told me they're already trying to set things up. I really hope it's got legs, I feel like a collective voice would be able to do wonders for trails if it's managed right.

Sent from my H8324 using Tapatalk
 

komdotkom

Likes Dirt
The attitude of PV is perplexing, I can't really understand where they are going with this. While 'rogue' trail building is not something they want to encourage they must recognise that the sport is growing exponentially in popularity and the sanctioned trails in Victoria don't meet the needs of the community from both a variety and capacity point of view. I've not checked the 'mission statement' for PV but I assume it's got something to do with making the State's green space assets available to the community and to increase outdoor activity. Surely the best indication that your engagement strategy isn't working is that end users are frustrated and doing their own thing?

With respect to a peak body/advocacy group, it's a great idea in theory but bringing together the disparate groups within the MTB community will be hard work. You've got everything from Enduro groms to lycra clad dentists on Yeti's who have conflicting requirements, communication platforms and expectations. While the dentists are probably quite able to articulate themselves and produce some decent documentation to support better XC parks for Yeti's to fail on, the grom's will probably post some sort of Tik Tok rant about step ups and skinnys which mean little to policy wonks in PV HQ.

I suspect some of the issues that PV have are based on providing safe spaces to enjoy outdoor activities and unregulated trail construction opens the flood gates for personal injury ambulance chasers to take them to the cleaners.
 

Asininedrivel

caviar connoisseur
I've worked closely with PV in the past so I might be able to provide a little background on their point of view...

Firstly: they have no money
Secondly: they have no money
Thirdly: they hav- you get the idea

It's not that PV are anti-MTB, but their role is first and foremost as land mangers - i.e. safeguarding and protecting the land they're responsible for managing. This is the priority ahead of all else, which means that they naturally take a dim view of illegal trail builds that may be unwittingly trampling through areas of highly valuable (and very sensitive) ecological or cultural significance.

Secondly, PV gets money for big flashy infrastructure ribbon cutting shit that Ministers can get photo ops for. PV then gets a proverbial 25c a year to maintain it. This is why so much is in less than optimal conditions.

Thirdly, PV have not recently managed certain areas particularly well (especially the Grampians climbing ban where they managed to piss off literally every stakeholder involved on all sides) which doesn't exactly inspire confidence that they're pro recreational activities in other areas they manage. This is really unfortunate as heaps of their staff / managers / rangers are passionate about being outdoors and lots and lots of them really love mountain biking. The vast majority are not our enemies and are just as frustrated as we are that things move so slowly.

Finally, there is fuck all education about how vulnerable most of our natural areas are and how even just taking a leashed dog on a walk in a national park can seriously mess up that park's ecosystem, quite often permanently. There is no education on how a seemingly innocuous trail build can cause all kinds of irreversible damage. But building properly designed sanctioned trails costs money - and lots of it - so we're back to point one.
 

CHEWY

Eats Squid
The trails in question were not particularly well thought out or planned. Some went straight downhill for long stretches, most of them ended in coming down 2m steep embankments to 4wd access tracks in plain view of everyone.
The exits were already getting completely blown out and looked horrendous to a casual passerby.
There was no way PV was ever going to allow them or become sanctioned trails.
They could/have potentially undone a lot of positive hard work by the local clubs gaining land access for MTB trails / relations with PV.

In saying that I did thoroughly enjoy riding them :p
 

caad9

Likes Bikes and Dirt
I’m local to the Silvan trails and have been riding in there for over 20 years.

My stance is that both sides are right and also wrong in equal parts. The YRMTB club was formed to give voice to the community of riders in the Yarra Valley, however the explosion in popularity has almost rendered the club useless. There are too many riders in the park now and because of that, the variety of trail required to satisfy that rider group is doubling or even tripling. There’s also far more people who think it’s their right to do as they please, even though it’s partly National Park.

The shitshow that is the Silvan MTB Facebook page is a perfect example of why we can’t have nice things. That page has thousands of members yet the YRMTB club would be lucky to have 1000 members.

Current trail building work and maintenance is conducted by volunteers/locals and always has and always will. As @Plankosaurus said, if Parks actually handed this over to the club then all the rogues would have a chance to use their enthusiasm in a way that benefits everyone. There would also bring a chance to discuss new trails and find routes or types of trails that satisfy both sides.

I’ve got friends on the committee of YRMTB, friends that don’t give a flying fuck what anyone thinks and friends in between. It’s just a no win situation

On a side note, the bloke that spent all the man hours building the north shore stuff in the vicinity of one of Melbourne’s most popular walks (1000 steps) is a dead set idiot and clearly didn’t think things through.
 

caad9

Likes Bikes and Dirt
The trails in question were not particularly well thought out or planned. Some went straight downhill for long stretches, most of them ended in coming down 2m steep embankments to 4wd access tracks in plain view of everyone.
The exits were already getting completely blown out and looked horrendous to a casual passerby.
There was no way PV was ever going to allow them or become sanctioned trails.
They could/have potentially undone a lot of positive hard work by the local clubs gaining land access for MTB trails / relations with PV.

In saying that I did thoroughly enjoy riding them :p
This has been something that I’ve been banging on about since forever. The OG silvan trails were all built when there was a riding community of about 20 blokes, if that. I loved them then and still do now, but times have changed.

With the increase in traffic, now is the time to formulate a proper plan about areas that trails can go, how to link them and most importantly, build them well. There’s no need for Parks to even get involved other than to designate areas or routes. The locals have reopened 80% of the network before parks can even answer when it might happen.

There never was a proper plan for the area and it’s coming back to haunt everyone. Turning a blind eye to things was the wrong approach by the club and Parks
 

silentbutdeadly

Eats Squid
I've worked closely with PV in the past so I might be able to provide a little background on their point of view...

Firstly: they have no money
Secondly: they have no money
Thirdly: they hav- you get the idea

It's not that PV are anti-MTB, but their role is first and foremost as land mangers - i.e. safeguarding and protecting the land they're responsible for managing. This is the priority ahead of all else, which means that they naturally take a dim view of illegal trail builds that may be unwittingly trampling through areas of highly valuable (and very sensitive) ecological or cultural significance.

Secondly, PV gets money for big flashy infrastructure ribbon cutting shit that Ministers can get photo ops for. PV then gets a proverbial 25c a year to maintain it. This is why so much is in less than optimal conditions.

Thirdly, PV have not recently managed certain areas particularly well (especially the Grampians climbing ban where they managed to piss off literally every stakeholder involved on all sides) which doesn't exactly inspire confidence that they're pro recreational activities in other areas they manage. This is really unfortunate as heaps of their staff / managers / rangers are passionate about being outdoors and lots and lots of them really love mountain biking. The vast majority are not our enemies and are just as frustrated as we are that things move so slowly.

Finally, there is fuck all education about how vulnerable most of our natural areas are and how even just taking a leashed dog on a walk in a national park can seriously mess up that park's ecosystem, quite often permanently. There is no education on how a seemingly innocuous trail build can cause all kinds of irreversible damage. But building properly designed sanctioned trails costs money - and lots of it - so we're back to point one.
This. Pretty much all this. And I say this with nearly two decades of exposure to someone with direct connection to departments like NPWS and PV...

Edit: And we can advocate all we want but there's no power at the local or even regional level. So any advocacy network would have to intimately understand the PV structure and the people within it to figure out who to target and how your work will make their work life easier.

PV does have an MTB policy document and various plans of management for a reserve but unless both support each other and the use of MTB and trail building activities in a reserve with a plan of management then you have nothing. And some PoM are only updated at decadal intervals since there's no money to prepare them...

I've been investigating the potential for legal trails here in my part of NSW and it's frankly just not tenable unless I can physically help more than a dozen people do even more of their bureaucratic job...and I'd much prefer to ride a bike.
 
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link1896

Is not a gynaecologist but will look at your fork
I had a pretty good run in with the local inner north member Kat Theophanous sometime earlier this year ( or last, it’s an utter blur really) when she stopped me at her “taking booth” on the side of the road when I was going for a light pedal

She was spruiking her bike friendly stance.

She knew NOTHING about the issues around mountain bikes and access to parks and PV. And not a thing about Warby and the environmental hoops the project has been forced to jump through.

I went full Poodle on her. Her assistant quickly stepped in when I started discussing the local bicycle commuting issues with cars in the local area. Narrow streets, illogical mix of 40/50/60 km speed limits, bicycles treated as an inconvenience and not a legitimate form of transport, bike lanes that vaporise at intersections, yet I can get to the shops quicker on the bike then in the car. They REALLY didn’t like my suggestion of one way streets with a lane dedicated to bikes.

I think 98% if politicians are a waste of dna. She reinforced that belief.


The sitting state member should be across these issues. So many of the bike parks are accessed from people who travel. Bail up your local member. Get stuck into them and make them aware that these issues are real. Don’t just bitch about it here.
 

yuley95

Likes Bikes and Dirt
I had a pretty good run in with the local inner north member Kat Theophanous sometime earlier this year ( or last, it’s an utter blur really) when she stopped me at her “taking booth” on the side of the road when I was going for a light pedal

She was spruiking her bike friendly stance.

She knew NOTHING about the issues around mountain bikes and access to parks and PV. And not a thing about Warby and the environmental hoops the project has been forced to jump through.

I went full Poodle on her. Her assistant quickly stepped in when I started discussing the local bicycle commuting issues with cars in the local area. Narrow streets, illogical mix of 40/50/60 km speed limits, bicycles treated as an inconvenience and not a legitimate form of transport, bike lanes that vaporise at intersections, yet I can get to the shops quicker on the bike then in the car. They REALLY didn’t like my suggestion of one way streets with a lane dedicated to bikes.

I think 98% if politicians are a waste of dna. She reinforced that belief.


The sitting state member should be across these issues. So many of the bike parks are accessed from people who travel. Bail up your local member. Get stuck into them and make them aware that these issues are real. Don’t just bitch about it here.
She's a lightweight at best.
 

Flow-Rider

Burner
You people want to spend some time to understand a few things, much of the above is correct, but it's all political as to why funding isn't dispersed into these parks. All government cares about is votes, they'll spend over 300 million on local street parks because the money in their view is economically spent, local street parks are what are going to be used more often, it's also easy for everyone to see at the 'look at what I've done for the community' scene.

Secondly, do yourselves a favour and look at the environment act in Australia, it also breaks down into sub-sections depending on the area it covers within a park, land managers have to abide with the act, it's their responsibility, and the enviro act trumps over anything recreational. Federal government was going to take some type of action here because someone in local government had passed MTB trails that shouldn't have existed, a trail care coordinator actually had legal threats towards her, it's a very fine line with MTB trails and the green act. Land managers are responsible for a lot, a good portion of them hate MTBs in Brisbane, I've spoken to them first hand myself, MTB's create more work and more problems for them to add to the already existing ones, don't forget that we are only one user group of many in these parks.

Pirate trails are by no means any good but a trail gone is one less trail to ride, and it's going to force more people onto the sanctioned networks that are already overloaded with the covid extra's, that will most likely disappear when the borders of Australia open up. FFS if you're going to build these trails do not do it anywhere near sanctioned networks, as it reverses a lot of the hard work already done.

Advocacy groups do work, just look at IMBA in the US, but you need mature people at the helm otherwise it will go all south very quickly.
 

Calvin27

Eats Squid
Firstly: they have no money
Secondly: they have no money
Thirdly: they hav- you get the idea
Surprisingly destroying trails cost a fair bit of money lol!

Let’s all pray for Warburton’s EES to get over the line, flood gates in Victoria should open after that.
The warby process is exactly why peole just shrug go too hard and then disengage with the process.
 

rextheute

Likes Dirt
I had a pretty good run in with the local inner north member Kat Theophanous sometime earlier this year ( or last, it’s an utter blur really) when she stopped me at her “taking booth” on the side of the road when I was going for a light pedal

She was spruiking her bike friendly stance.

She knew NOTHING about the issues around mountain bikes and access to parks and PV. And not a thing about Warby and the environmental hoops the project has been forced to jump through.

I went full Poodle on her. Her assistant quickly stepped in when I started discussing the local bicycle commuting issues with cars in the local area. Narrow streets, illogical mix of 40/50/60 km speed limits, bicycles treated as an inconvenience and not a legitimate form of transport, bike lanes that vaporise at intersections, yet I can get to the shops quicker on the bike then in the car. They REALLY didn’t like my suggestion of one way streets with a lane dedicated to bikes.

I think 98% if politicians are a waste of dna. She reinforced that belief.


The sitting state member should be across these issues. So many of the bike parks are accessed from people who travel. Bail up your local member. Get stuck into them and make them aware that these issues are real. Don’t just bitch about it here.
I had this convo , with our local member who knocked on my door …..
Her minder stepped in as it was her opinion I was scaring her .

I note that she will be opening a bike park in the local area shortly .


The ‘trails local ‘ to me are in Wombat Forest - some one has - in a show of good faith introduced ‘ features ‘ to the Blue trails which may challenge some riders ( me especially hahahah …) but dwelp will come and remove them - much to the consternation of the ‘ pros that ride ‘
The forest needs to be accessible to all - if I want to challenge myself - it’s fairly easy as I am a Gumby after lockdown .

It’s a fine line and politicians will - politician - no votes , nil interest .

no I don’t have an answer , which is why I ride my bike in the forest - to gain clarity and shut the noise in my head up .
 

rextheute

Likes Dirt
@Asininedrivel - sorry , didn’t want to quote a text wall .
in regards to the Grampians project - I’m all In , it’s great - and will do bits and pieces of the trail .

A total winner for the pollies that backed it - great media coverage etc .
however 2 weeks on ( I know longer than that ) but nothing , everyone has moved on to the next big thing - which will be how tourists are ruining the trail - sorry , cynical me
 

silentbutdeadly

Eats Squid
Surprisingly destroying trails cost a fair bit of money lol!
Ahhh... there's typically actually an annual budget for that. Not for removing trails specifically but for machines and operators and routine reserve maintenance. So this is no surprise nor any consternation to me...
 

ualf

Likes Dirt
I've worked closely with PV in the past so I might be able to provide a little background on their point of view...

Firstly: they have no money
Secondly: they have no money
Thirdly: they hav- you get the idea
I also have had some involvement with PV in the same park Dale refers to.

I do not buy the no money rubbish.

Plenty of money to pay a subcontractor to drive heavy machinery through the trails to knock over perfectly healthy trees to close of decades old trails that were so established and well built that they needed virtually no maintenance.

Plenty of money to pay another subcontractor to build a 500m post and rail fence to block a 4m wide fire trail on the pretext that mtb riders were causing erosion.

Agreeing to let the local club to build a new formal trail. Once all the work is done, the ranger in charge of the park who happens to be a trail runner, changes the designation of the trail to shared use and finds funds to get a contractor to drive a bob cat through the trail to remove all features that are unfriendly to trail runners. So many volunteer hours went towards building a trail that is uninspiring to ride but great to run.

My perception is that there is a lack of ethics training for PV managers so I went from averaging about 20 hours a month as a volunteer to none. In the past some success was had by publicly boycotting all volunteer activity in the park and running an information campaign to advertise the lack of goodwill being displayed by PV.
 

Flow-Rider

Burner
The sitting state member should be across these issues. So many of the bike parks are accessed from people who travel. Bail up your local member. Get stuck into them and make them aware that these issues are real. Don’t just bitch about it here.
That's what I tell people here, it's coming up to an election where they're chasing every last vote. Time to contact your local MP and see where they stand when it comes to mountain biking, because they will be the people voting on allocated funding for trails.
 
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