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December 2011 Issue
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Pigeon Post, December 2011

Letter of the month

Hawdon Hut needs a Wilderness update!

Our family recently had a wonderful tramp to Hawdon Hut and Walker Pass.

In the hut, for the evening, attention was turned to chatting and reading anything that was lying around. At Hawdon Hut the pages of a Wilderness magazine were flipped but this magazine was different. It was a 1997 edition! ‘That’s before I was born,’ piped our 13-year-old.

My husband was excited to see a photo of his 25-year-old pack in a ‘modern’ setting. A fellow tramper found a few more mags from the 90’s and entertained us with the best of the letters to the editor. You really must re-publish the 1999 edition treatment for hypothermia which involved body warmth and alcohol (not for the victim). We all had a good laugh but couldn’t help thinking that a few magazines from this century are overdue.

– Diana Austin, email

Anyone planning a trip to Hawdon Hut and who would like to volunteer to take some more recent issues with them can contact the editor! – AH

* Our letter of the month correspondent receives a Warthog Classic V-Sharp knife sharpening tool worth $149 courtesy of top-gear.co.nz. Readers, send your letter to the editor for a chance to win great outdoor prizes.

Stop pillaging the trees

I always wonder why you do not hear much protest about one of New Zealand’s major environmental disasters – the plantation of pine trees! Nobody seems to speak up about this kind of destruction. Has anyone noticed how much damage is done to our mountains? How good can it be to strip whole mountains bare, execute major earthworks for forestry roads and handling areas? Precious topsoil gets ploughed under and pushed away. After replanting, the process repeats. Nobody seems to be worried about erosion and the effects to the soil.

– Hans Podlucky, email

Commercialise conservation? Yes please!

A great article on ‘The department of Commercialisation’ (October 2011). Can we have more commercialisation please – and sooner? Like it or not, more money will be spent where the people are (urban areas – transport and infrastructure) and less money will be spent where the people are sparse (remote areas – conservation).

As a conservationist I have no problem with this rationing of funds. This just means conservationists have to be more innovative to source their own funding. The set up of the Commercial Business Unit by DOC is a great start. I’m keen to see conservation groups like Forest and Bird follow this lead with their own commercial units (green consultancy?).

Conservation groups (including DOC) across New Zealand are sitting on huge assets and huge opportunities. It has to start with the custodians of these assets recognising the significant benefits to conservation that commercialisation can bring.

– Stu Smith, email

Water safety lessons needed

The September issue of Wilderness carries a certain degree of irony.

There is a major feature on outdoor safety and how the outdoors industry may be regulated along with the standards that are being applied to operators and trainers.

Then, on p15, we see a photograph of a tramper crossing a stream in flood, using a pole incorrectly (downstream instead of upstream) while his mate takes a photo from the bank!

In addition, on p26 Raymond Salisbury makes light of crossing the flooded Ada River with a group who ‘link arms’.

I am left wondering if anyone has heard of the Mutual Support Technique or of staying put when watercourses are in flood.

Little wonder New Zealand rivers claim so many lives when blatant disregard of safety and appropriate technique is demonstrated so frequently and worse than that, published for all to see with no annotation about the dangers the authors are placing themselves and their friends in.

It does not matter that I was not there to see the conditions. You do not cross a river or a stream in flood and when you do cross, you correctly deploy the safest method available.

I suggest those involved in these examples attend an approved river crossing course run by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council so they at least know when and how to cross a river.

Perhaps your magazine might consider running a story on safe river crossing so other readers are not put at risk.

– David Johnson, Blenheim

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