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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Snowy Mountains

Backcountry 2020 – what’s the go?

With ski resorts announcing their plans for the season (and resorts having considerable control over access to many backcountry skiing and riding access points) we now have a sense of what winter will look like.

The key message is that if you’re planning to access backcountry via a resort you need to organise entry before you go. But there are many options outside resort areas.

Continue reading “Backcountry 2020 – what’s the go?”

Barilaro calls for horse removal from Kosciuszko National Park to stop

Wild horses, along with other feral species, have inflicted enormous damage on the alpine and sub alpine environments of the Snowy Mountains for decades.

There has been a long campaign to have numbers of horses reduced, which has been resisted by people who claim the horses have a ‘cultural’ claim to be in the mountains. In a significant development, in February 2020, NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean announced emergency post-bushfire measures aimed at reducing horse numbers in three areas in northern Kosciuszko that are being damaged by horses – Boggy/Kiandra, Nungar and Cooleman plains.

This was done with the support from NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro. However, now Mr Barilaro has reneged in his support for bushfire emergency horse removal measures, calling for horse removal from Kosciuszko National Park to stop.

Continue reading “Barilaro calls for horse removal from Kosciuszko National Park to stop”

The Winter of Awesome

Now that we know that ski resorts will be open at least for some of the winter we can really get on with our planning. In NSW an announcement on the ski season is expected this week, and the season will start in VIC from June 22. I hope this helps with your planning for trips and events. Here are some events that I am aware of. Please feel free to send in details on others.

Continue reading “The Winter of Awesome”

Approval of Snowy 2.0 EIS sets ‘appalling precedent’

The Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion started as a good idea. As the scale of the physical impact of the project became more obvious during the approvals process, environmental groups started to oppose it. After the release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the NSW National Parks Association said that the plan ‘proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park’.

It has now received planning approval from the NSW state government, despite ongoing objections over the project’s environmental impacts.

Continue reading “Approval of Snowy 2.0 EIS sets ‘appalling precedent’”

Research into Snow Gum dieback continues

Snow gums are experiencing dieback in Kosciuszko National Park, largely because of the impacts of the native longicorn (or ‘longhorn’) beetle. These beetles prefer to lay their eggs on moisture-stressed trees and, in warmer weather, the longicorn beetle can hatch and grow up to 75% faster (reports here). This has been linked to climate change because of warmer temperatures in alpine areas.

So far, impacts seem to be limited to areas in the Snowy Mountains among two distinct subspecies of snow gum – in the Guthega and Perisher areas and parts of Thredbo.

This is an update on the research into the impacts of dieback in these areas.

Continue reading “Research into Snow Gum dieback continues”

The impacts of the Kosciuszko fires

The 2019-20 bushfire season is the most widespread and extreme that NSW has ever experienced. More than 5.4 million hectares burnt across NSW, including 2.7 million hectares of national park estate (up until 3 February 2020). In some regions, over 50% of the national park estate has been impacted.

Within Kosciuszko National Park, just over 231,000 ha, or 33.5% of the national park has burnt. The Adaminaby complex (which originated out of the Green Valley fire) and Pilot Lookout fires were finally declared extinguished on 16 February 2020.

The following report comes from The Resort Roundup (available here), published by the State of NSW and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Continue reading “The impacts of the Kosciuszko fires”

Work starts on Snowy Hydro 2.0 ‘Segment Factory’

Back in 2017, the Federal Government announced a feasibility study into the possible expansion to the Snowy Hydro Scheme in the Snowy Mountains of NSW (‘Snowy Hydro 2.0’).  It was billed as being a circuit breaker in the ‘fossil fuels vs renewables’ energy debate because it would be renewable energy that will provide baseload capacity. The project would greatly enhance the pumped hydro capacity of the existing hydro scheme, meaning that water can be used multiple times to produce electricity.

While some environmentalists gave in principle support to the project, many wanted to see the details on what the physical environmental impacts of the project would be. Since then, as the environmental impacts of the project became more obvious, the movement became increasingly opposed.

Recently, a group of energy experts called on the state and federal governments to stop work on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project.

It has also been reported that the next stage of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion has been given the green light, with approval for construction of the project’s ‘Segment Factory’.

Work has now started on the facility: Snowy Hydro has already started clearing native bushland for the construction site at Lobs Hole in the heart of Kosciuszko National Park.

The NSW National Parks Association says ‘This is just the beginning. Snowy 2.0 will permanently destroy 1000’s of hectares of Kosciuszko, and dump 20 million tonnes of contaminated tunnel spoil, the equivalent of covering Sydney Harbour Bridge and its surrounds’.

The NSW Minister Planning, Rob Stokes, and NSW Minister for the Environment and Energy Matt Kean is expected to make their final decision on approvals for the project ‘any day’.

Check here for additional information on the project from the NSW National Parks Association (NSW NPA).

Take Action

The NSW NPA is asking people to send a letter to the NSW government urging them to not sign off on final environmental approvals.

 

 

 

Snowy Hydro 2.0 gets approval for factory

Just a week or so after a group of energy experts called on the state and federal governments to stop work on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project, it has been reported that the next stage of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion has been given the green light, with approval for construction of the project’s ‘Segment Factory’.

Continue reading “Snowy Hydro 2.0 gets approval for factory”

Energy experts call for halt to Snowy 2.0

Back in 2017, the Federal Government announced a feasibility study into the possible expansion to the Snowy Hydro Scheme in the Snowy Mountains of NSW.  It was billed as being a circuit breaker in the ongoing impass in the ‘fossil fuels vs renewables’ energy debate because it would be renewable energy that will provide baseload capacity. The project would greatly enhance the pumped hydro capacity of the existing hydro scheme, meaning that water can be used multiple times to produce electricity.

While some environmentalists gave in principle support to the project, many wanted to see the details on what the physical environmental impacts of the project would be. In 2019, the NSW government released the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) into the project. This showed the level of physical impact of the project. The National Parks Association of NSW said in response that the EIS ‘proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park’. It has been expected that the project will soon receive approval for its EIS from the NSW government.

Now a group of thirty Australian energy experts have called for a halt to the hydro scheme.

Continue reading “Energy experts call for halt to Snowy 2.0”

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