The following comes from Chris Harrington.
A survey is currently being conducted Mount Buller/ Mt Stirling resort management, canvassing the idea of introducing a summer resort entry fee. A recent article in the local press notes that the “Mount Buller/ Mount Stirling Alpine Resort Management Board (ARMB) has confirmed it will not be charging a summer gate entry for the 2015/2016. However, the survey being conducted is investigating resort visitation, visitor patterns and habits with the intent of considering potential summer revenue streams” (Mansfield Courier 9/12/2015). The article also notes some opposition, and some support for the introduction of summer access fees.
The ARMB has invested considerable time, money and other resources in the development, and now the maintenance of the mountain bike trail network and the establishment of an International Mountain Biking Association Ride Centre. It marks a shift in resort management from a largely ‘white season’ focus, to ‘green season’ pursuits. It’s a response to more variable winter snow conditions and perhaps a declining revenue base as a consequence of climate change.
It should be noted that there are a wide range of people passing through the Buller/ Stirling gate – horse riders, campers, car tourers, bushwalkers and bike riders to name a few. Not all these people use the newly established mountain bike trails, and not all trails are exclusively for the more ‘hard core’ pursuits. For instance, Mt Stirling and backcountry areas have extensive trail networks established for skiing, walking, driving and riding which receive limited maintenance, especially outside ski season.
The resort gate provides access to areas inside and beyond the resort. Mirrimbah Park just inside the gate is popular with tourist and local residents for picnics and camping. Significantly the Alpine National Park can be accessed via the Circuit Road at Mt Stirling, as well as State Forest areas such as The Pinnacle, Mt No. 3 and Pineapple Flat.
Clearly there is a diverse user base passing through the Mount Buller/ Mount Stirling gates outside the ski season. It’s great to get a snapshot of users, and introducing a gate fee is likely to generate an additional revenue stream for the ARMB. However, not everyone uses resort entry for the same reasons. Clearly there are questions here about who pays for the development of new infrastructure and its maintenance. There are of course deeper questions here about paying for access to a public resource, particularly for those who merely want to spend some time ‘out there in the mountains’.
The survey can be filled out at the entry booth to the mountain.
[Note from Cam. When I went through the entry booth recently and did the survey, I asked about what the money would be spent on. They weren’t able to tell me, or what new infrastructure might be funded from the fee].