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Funding boost for backcountry huts

Aspiring Hut is set to receive work from the backcountry Trust. Photo: Tom@Where/Flickr

The Backcountry Trust has received a $2 million expansion as part of the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme.

The boost is expected to create 108 contract jobs that will be targeted to areas most affected by the downturn in tourists, including West Coast, Canterbury, Wanaka and some North Island areas.

Backcountry Trust manager Rob Brown said it has been a lot of hard work to get to this point.

“We are acutely aware of the needs of those communities and people who are under stress with the change that Covid has brought to parts of the outdoor tourism industry, many of whom have a passion for the sort of work we’ve been involved in with our volunteer programme,” he said.

“Over the next few months, we will continue our partnership with DOC so we can get as many projects as we can cope with up and running for this summer.”

Brown said this will include hut and track maintenance and also “some wages for people with the right skill sets to do the work.”

Brown said the funding will run alongside the existing volunteer programme, and double the trust’s yearly project load.

“This includes some major injections for things like the redevelopment of the NZAC’s historic Aspiring Hut,” he said.

Conservation minister Eugenie Sage said: “The trust and its volunteers and paid contractors do an incredible job, supporting the restoration of more than 100 huts around Aotearoa and the upgrading of more than 900km of track.”

Murchison rafting company Ultimate Descents is one of the businesses to have benefitted from contract work for the trust, with its staff employed to repair East Matakitaki Hut in Nelson Lakes National Park.