Informal Track Rehabilitation

The Problem

The original top soil at Karkarook Park was shallow and very sandy. When the land was rehabilitated from the sand mine that it was, only a thin layer of top soil was placed over the excavated depression which is now forms the slope and shoreline of the lake. Many tree roots must stay close to the surface to find nourishment. Just a little disturbance and the fragile soil can easily wash away exposing the roots to damage and destabilizing the trees. Mid-story and ground cover plant don't stand a chance and the entire ecosystem of the park bush-land is adversely affected.

Taking a shortcut through the bush may seem harmless, but over time will destroy this fragile ecosystem.

Please keep to the paths

What to do about Informal Tracks

Some time ago, Park Victoria have indicated that they will work with us to address the problem of this cobweb of informal tracks that are appearing in the bushland areas of Karkarook Park.

To get a little momentum happening it has been suggested that members could map out the location of the tracks so that Parks Victoria staff can determine what should stay and what should go - and develop a strategy to make it happen.

To this end a Megan and Sabine started to map things out on paper, but soon determined that this would not work. Sabine suggested using technology. The GPS Tracker App called Strava (The free version!) has all the functionality to do the job.

A number of people could download the app to their phone, walk the tracks, recording their movements on the app and then share to a coordinator who can collate to a master map.

Here's how it could work:

  1. Download and install the Free Version of the Strava App from Google Play or the Apple Store. Don't fall for the enticements to get paid subscription unless you want functionality beyond what's needed here!

  2. Get down to the park (either individually or in a group). Turn on the Strava App, start recording and start walking. Walk along whatever informal track the you wish, When finished, stop recording and save.

  3. Share your track with the coordinator (Sabine) or the Secretary (John)

  4. Job Done!

We'll collate the results and send them off to Park Victoria local rangers.

Observations could be noted indicating the condition, severity and popularity of the trail. A simple subjective method of trail classification could look like this:

Class 0: Trail barely distinguishable; no or minimal disturbance of vegetation and/or organic litter.

Class 1: Trail distinguishable; slight loss of vegetation cover and/or minimal disturbance of organic litter.

Class 2: Trail obvious; vegetation cover lost and/or organic litter pulverized in primary use areas.

Class 3: Vegetation cover lost and/or organic litter pulverized within the center of the tread, some bare soil exposed.

Class 4: Nearly complete or total loss of vegetation cover and organic litter within the tread, bare soil widespread.

Class 5: Soil erosion obvious, as indicated by exposed roots and rocks and/or gullying

Once we have the data, we can talk to Parks Victoria about how to tackle the problem.

For example: Tracks to be closed could be roped off, signposted and covered with branches and leaf litter and maybe some small ground cover plants, as well as small and mid-story plants,

A great opportunity for community engagement and participation.

This would need to be planned and actioned in conjunction with Parks Victoria.

Trailside prompter signs to assist management efforts in closing informal trails

Barrier closing an unacceptable informal trail.

Tracks to be retained could be made to appear that they are meant to be used.

Not an expensive fix, but one which would again present the opportunity for community engagement and participation.