Comments sought on Draft NSW Fossicking in National Parks Policy

mbasko

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I can understand your passion LoneWolf & agree that submissions need to include your concerns but there is a positive way & a negative way of reading between the line on this issue. At this stage of this policy being a "DRAFT" open for comment I would be looking for the positives & not concentrating on any perceived negatives just yet. It is far too early to jump to any conclusions & there is nothing in the NPWS "DRAFT" to suggest that either of the current allowable areas in NSW National Parks will be or could be closed down. They even state:
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/policies/fossicking-policy.htm said:
Fossicking is currently permitted in two parks, with consent provided by their plans of management:
- Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve (Grove Creek part only)
- Torrington State Conservation Area (throughout the park).

2. Consent to fossick will not be considered in nature reserves, historic sites, Aboriginal areas or karst conservation reserves, except as already permitted in Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve.
This to me suggests that these areas will remain as is & not be closed down. Fossicking is already permitted under these areas plans of management & to the best of my knowledge could not be altered without a review of the current management plan/s. Some dedicated local vigilance would be required to keep on eye on any proposed changes & the Emmaville Mining Museum + any others interested should register their interest with NPWS if they aren't already!
If you were to track down the management plans on these 2 areas you in all likelihood will find (I haven't read these 2 specifically) that the majority if not all of "DRAFT" policy conditions would already be imposed on these areas as they are pretty much straight out of the various relevant legislation such as National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009; National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974; Wilderness Act 1987; Mining Regulation 2010; Fossicking: A guide to fossicking in NSW; Mining Act 1992 etc. The fact is that this policy would not be introducing anything new to the current areas but more than likely reinforcing what is already imposed by the current management plans.

This policy may actually improve the Abercrombie area where fossicking is only allowed in a small section of Grove Creek & is restricted to panning only. No other equipment such as metal detectors or sluices can currently be used there at all!
The positives here far outweigh any perceived negatives in my opinion. I cannot say I have ever heard of or known NPWS to open up a "DRAFT" policy & request for fossickers/prospectors to make comment on; or for that matter any other management plan etc. Also currently more than 99% of National Park areas are unavailable for fossicking at all. THEY ARE NO GO ZONES!! Regardless of whether they open up small areas to panning or whole parks to detecting, sluicing + panning it will be areas we DO NOT CURRENTLY HAVE ACCESS TO!!

I just hope that your submission wasn't as emotive or offensive to NPWS as some posts as it will do us no good.
Submissions don't have to be long winded but we do need to keep emotions in check, not become offensive or personal & make sure they contain accurate information & are to the point. Please read what is only a "DRAFT" as such & make sure you understand what it's about - don't jump to any conclusion just yet. If your unsure of something then this is what this thread is about - throw it up here for discussion or gauge opinion on anything your unsure of.
 

Tathradj

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Mbasko welcome back. :)
Very well written and I agree on what you have stated there mate.
The comments I made were along the lines of wording.
Not about the aspects of prospecting.
This is a first as well. NP putting it out for comment is a very positive action
instead of just quoting rules and regulations then slamming the gates shut.
They are actually asking for a resolution to a vexing problem. :) :)
I respect this course of action as we the prospecting community are adding positive
feed back.
Finally what has to be appreciated is our hard working lobby groups and massive kudo's for this.
 

mbasko

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I plan on doing a submission shortly but in the meantime here is a summary of issues I can see at the moment for anyone wanting to put a submission in but not sure of where to start:

- we need to ensure that where fossicking is currently permitted in the two parks currently, with consent provided by their plans of management being Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve & Torrington State Conservation Area, that these remain unchanged with any implementation of this draft policy. Changes should only occur with a review of the current plans of management, with community consultation, & using the draft policy as guide only.

- the use of the wording "mechanical sluicing" needs to be removed and/or replaced with wording that better describes the activity not permitted if it has been misunderstood by NPWS. Mechanical sluicing is not allowable under the terms of NSW legislation anyway & should hold no relevance to this policy.

- although former State Forest Areas (& other former Crown Lands), where fossicking was once a permitted activity, are now covered by NPWS legislation thought needs to be given moving forward where any future State Forest acquisitions (or other Crown Lands such as Commons, TSR's - Travelling Stock Routes, unmanaged Crown Lands etc.) where fossicking is a current lawful activity that it be maintained after NPWS acquire them. This may need a multi-tiered approach from NPWS in managing these areas by way of having nature reserves or other conservation areas that are off limits within the boundaries of an otherwise allowable area? Currently it is grossly unfair to us as recreational users to have our right to enjoy our hobby removed even where it is an existing allowable activity & should be reflected as such in the future management plan/s for any of these acquired area/s.

- the requirement to get Exploration Lease holder permission needs to be reviewed as a whole in NSW. Where public lands have allowable fossicking areas then these should automatically become fossicking districts/areas & have this imposition removed from the hobby fossicker. In many cases these companies don't even reply to requests & have no obligation to do so under NSW rules & regulations. They should not be allowed to dictate any allowable activities on any public land.

- What is the process of considering fossicking in a park? There are some concerns around how we as hobbyists would prepare documents for this? i.e. reviews of environmental factors & visitor safety risk assessments. Are other users of National Parks required to have this documentation before entering a NPWS area? Fossicking is a low environmental impact; relatively safe activity that poses very few, if any, risks over other allowable activities such as bushwalking, 4wd, camping, swimming, fishing etc. If it's not a requirement of other users then why are we being imposed with it? Can generic documents be produced & used if required? Fossicking is not a form of mining which can be/is a high risk activity. We need to be considered without being defined as a form of mining which NPWS have done in previous correspondence with them.

- notify NPWS prior to commencing the activity? How will this be done? Will there be a permit system whereby having a permit to fossick is considered prior notification or does this need to be done for each trip? Who do you notify?

- requiring fossicker's to sterilise equipment before entering or leaving areas? What method of sterilisation is required? How? Do NPWS rangers use a method for their equipment when moving between areas?

Dicko said:
enabling Prospecting Australia to be involved in the negotiation of the changes.
I think Prospecting Australia can play a major role in this by encouraging people to make positives suggestions for submission & providing a platform for discussion but any negotiation should be left to our State Lobby groups such as NAPFA. This is what they exist for & while the forum can add plenty of clout behind these things it isn't best situated to tackle negotiations as such.
 
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Very well said Matt, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I think one relevant point about permits as in regard to the State Forest permit is that when you apply for your permit is that you sign your name as to the fact that you have read and understand the rules regarding obtaining and keeping your permit.

I think a similar permit regarding NPWS could work the same. If someone doesn't abide by the rules they should have their permit either confiscated or suspended for a period of time as they have signed that they understand such rules and will abide by them.

They could set up something similar to a miners right, I'd be happy to pay a yearly, 5 or 10 yearly fee.

Sterilisation of equipment looks like a tricky point unless equipment is provided at the entry points to National Parks, I don't see that it could be much different than driving into a park now. I know some fams and sensitive areas have spray devices for spraying under cars as they drive over access points.
 

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Full marks to the forum on this discussion. And to the top contribution by Mbasko. His post raises many implementation questions around the policy which will help Parks to better understand the need to be less bureaucratic and more reasonable in terms of the processes. NAPFA has pointed quite a few of these out to Parks but having that reinforced by community members will be helpful. The devil will certainly be in the detail of the implementation.

I totally understand that some people would like it all fully fixed and to be easy. But unfortunately Parks is a large organisation whose primary function is to implement the relevant NP Acts - rather than facilitating fossicking. So they are being very careful that enabling us to do something does not seriously inhibit their other objectives. I am sure workable solutions to the key implementation problems can be found, but like searching for gold, it ain't going to be easy. But every square metre of new ground is a win.

Stephen
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NAPFA
 

mbasko

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https://www.prospectingaustralia.com/forum/doc/member-docs/4485/1460762700_npws_sub_pa.pdf

Above is a sample of the submission I made to NPWS. If anyone is interested & can take some time to make a submission hopefully the above can help - don't copy word for word but if you agree with any points then use it to help in yours.

I also sent a copy to the NSW Resources Minister & NSW Tourism Minister as I believe they are or should be stakeholders in this policy & decision making process. From a tourism viewpoint NSW Tourism should also look at making a positive submission to something that may improve tourism in some regional areas which I have pointed out to them.
 
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Very well said mbasko.... Glad Someone sees what I see in this ... Hopefully things Will go well.... maybe they are slowly changing after a new area has opened up in Barrington Tops.....

LoneWolf....
 

mbasko

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Thanks Lonewolf - I'm hoping it goes well too. Giving NPWS the benefit of the doubt at the moment & hoping that something workable for everyone comes out of it.
 

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Good work Mbasko...you are leading the way.

Cheers

Stephen

President NAPFA.
 

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LoneWolf said:
Very well said mbasko.... Glad Someone sees what I see in this ... Hopefully things Will go well.... maybe they are slowly changing after a new area has opened up in Barrington Tops.....

LoneWolf....

Lonewolf -- what's the new area in Barrington you are referrting to please? I had not heard of it.

Stephen
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Well it may not be that new, but it's new to me... Barrington State Forest.... I thought the whole area was NP ....Now I have the map quite a portion is actually State Forest.. Bit far for me but a few on here are having fun anyhow.....

LoneWolf....
 
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Emailed off a response to the draft policy.
Responded item by item through the daft draft policy.

Thanks for the inspiration mbasko :)

Here is an interesting page to look at to compare NPWS policies for other activities in the parks

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/policies/

I forgot about geocaching and horse riding when I put in my submission as I only found this page after I submitted.

I presume one attaches it as a pdf to the email?
Is that what you did mbassko or did you put it in the email as text?
Do not want NPWS to lose it.

Took all day
 

mbasko

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Glad I could help & hopefully others follow on.
I attached mine as a .pdf to the email.

An interesting point from the Beekeeping policy that should be adapted to fossicking also:

- "Will beekeepers be notified when land is added to a park?
Yes. The Reserve Establishment Team in NPWS will notify the NSW Apiarists' Association when NPWS acquires lands for reservation under the NPW Act."

The Reserve Establishment Team should also notify NAPFA when it acquires land. This will help NAPFA to be able to make timely comment & also notify members so any with a direct interest can have input at the draft plan of management stage.
 
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The Reserve Establishment Team should also notify Gem and Lapidary Council of NSW when it acquires land.
That might get them more involved.
 

mbasko

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Wonder if the various gem fossicking forums or clubs are aware of the submission? Hopefully they're already onto it too.
 

reefer

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WELL I'M REALLY PINGED OFF! Cant get the link to open to allow me to have my say....Just will not open no matter what i do. :mad:
 
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