A ‘fair go’ funding program for rural & regional rail trails
Being a new user of Victorian rail trails I am happy to pass on an open letter to the Premier on behalf of Michael Oxer, Secretary of the East Gippsland Rail Trail Committee of Management Inc. Michael says:
“Victoria is leading Australia in the provision of multi purpose recreational trails constructed on former raliway reserves. Rail trails using Crown Lands which were formerly abandoned and were no longer providing the public good of connecting rural communities.
Without exception, the 31 rail trails across Victroia rely heavily on the tireless dedication of volunteers to not only establish these assets but then carry the demanding responsibility of managing and maintaining them.
In many cases Local Government plays a crucial role, but is generally not able to shoulder the full load of ongoing maintenance.
It is one thing to set up a rail trail, complex and demanding as that process might be. It is an entirely different matter to deal with the daily issues and systematic demands involved in maintenance, especially on the longer trails which are the boast of the State and stimulate public interest from across the nation and even overseas.
Dedicated volunteers can deliver amazing results, but if unable to rely on assured funding to carry out the essential tasks of maintaining these assets which serve both local communities and wider State valued tourism activity, the individuals involved will fade away, disheartened and overwhelmed by the task.
On behalf of all rail trail committees of management in Victoria I urge you and your Cabinet to give rural and regional rail trails in particular a fair go by designing a realistic funding program to meet the ongoing responsibilities involved in the management and maintenance of the Crown Land assets.”
How are the rail trail committees faring in your region?