Trail users to help fund maintenance

Cyclists and walkers using the Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold trails will be asked to help fund maintenance so ratepayers will not have to dig deeper.

Roxburgh Gorge Trail Charitable Trust chairman Stephen Jeffery yesterday said users would be asked to pay a yearly contribution of $25 per person or $50 per family and it was about being ''socially responsible''.

''We're not asking ratepayers to fund maintenance, we're asking users to be community spirited and fund their usage. It's no different to people fishing without a fishing licence or shooting ducks without a duckshooting licence.

''It should be looked upon as a maintenance contribution rather than a fee.''

Unlike the Department of Conservation-managed Otago Central Rail Trail, the new trails will be operated by a joint management team comprising members of the two original trail trusts, all of whom are volunteers.

Initial in-principle support from the Central Otago District Council included the underwriting of any maintenance costs.

Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust chairman Rod Peirce said the plan was always to find a way for the trails to be self-funding.

''It's something that has concerned us all along. It's either the user pays the maintenance or the rates go up.''

Mr Jeffery said they had a maintenance figure in mind but until the trails had been open for at least a year, that figure would not be clear.

The maintenance contribution was announced at the same time as plans for the official opening of both trails, scheduled for October 24.

The day will begin with a breakfast from 8am at Monteiths Brewery Bar in Alexandra, followed by a 9am ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Alexandra end of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, off Old Bridge Rd.

Riderswill then cycle a total of 22km between Alexandra and the Roxburgh dam. They will have to catch

a water taxi to bypass a 10km section in the middle that is still under the tenure-review process.

The official opening of both trails will take place at noon at Commissioners Flat, Roxburgh East, just south of the dam.

Cyclists will then ride the 73km Clutha Gold Trail to Lawrence, where another

ribbon-cutting ceremony, involving Deputy Prime Minister and Clutha-Southland MP Bill English, will take place, followed by a community barbecue at Simpson Park.

A special presentation will also be made to 13 landowners who gave easements for the Clutha Gold Trail.

Both chairmen said they were excited and relieved to finally be planning the opening days.

''It's been a hell of a journey since '06,'' Mr Peirce said.



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