A round up of news from the wild

Toilet paper shortage sparks chaos in bush

The national shortage of toilet paper has led to chaotic scenes on tramping tracks and free camping sites around the country, with overseas tourists forced to use real toilets instead of defecating and leaving toilet paper strewn on the ground. DOC rangers are reporting a sudden lack of human waste around huts, and hardly any toilet paper sighted in the long grass.

“This is very concerning behaviour,” a DOC spokesperson said. “Tourists – and some locals, I might add – are clearly unable to obtain enough toilet paper to spread around the environment, and many have complained they’ve been forced to use actual toilet facilities or even carry their waste out with them. It is causing a lot of disruption and angst among the tramping community.”

The situation is being monitored closely and authorities hope to have piles of waste and used toilet paper back in their rightful position around campsites and huts in the coming weeks.

Stimulus package for wilderness areas

The Olivine Wilderness Area in Mt Aspiring National Park will become the first wilderness area to benefit from a recently announced government backcountry stimulus package, aimed to counter the global economic downturn caused by Coronavirus.

In a press release sent out this morning, Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage said all designated wilderness areas would receive a significant boost in infrastructure funding.

“It is vital for the country that money gets circulated and spent in rural areas. That’s why we have announced $4.75 million in funding for track cutting, signage and new eco-lodges to be built in previously barren, useless areas of the country.”

Round two of the initiative will kick off in November and see kiosks installed at Cloudmaker Lake and Volta Glacier. The minister is also calling for tenders to build a travelator to expedite travel on Williamsons Flats.

An FMC spokesperson said the minister’s announcement had their full support. “This initiative will funnel much-needed investment and facilities into our most neglected areas of backcountry,” she said. “It is sage advice.”

Call for fairer walking conditions

The days of 10-hour slogs through the hills could soon be a thing of the past if the government heeds the call of a powerful new tampers’ lobby group. The newly formed Backcountry Union for Limited Labour (BULL) is calling for a maximum eight hours’ daily walking limit for trampers to be enshrined in legislation.

“All we’re asking for is a fair day’s walk for a fair day’s pay,” said BULL president Donna Hill. “At the moment our members get neither.”

A recent survey found that 85 per cent of trampers said they felt pressured to walk overtime, and 75 per cent said they feared they would lose their bunks if they refused to walk the extra hours. “Some DOC signage is blatantly misrepresenting the actual walking hours required, or assuming that our members are mad, fit bastards, which they clearly aren’t,” said Ms Hill, who added there was also an increase in the number of casual walkers walking on the weekend. “These walkers are our most vulnerable, forced to walk irregular hours with little or no rest stops.”

If successful the union said it would push for a move towards four-day walking weeks.

Read the full story here…