At 690,000 hectares Kosciuszko is NSW's largest national park and receives over 1.2 million visitors a year and growing. Additional visitor opportunities are proposed to accommodate this growth. The planning projects outlined below are underway and some are likely to generate draft plan of management amendments for public and stakeholder review. We are planning a number of consultations, and the information below will help with understanding all that is going on.
Kosciuszko National Park
Kosciuszko - the largest national park in New South Wales.
Legislation has been changed to enable the second snowy hydro scheme to be built, and leases, licences, easements and rights of way are being issued to operationalise the project. A draft amendment to the plan of management is underway to ensure that the scheme's operations can be undertaken in accordance with the plan. This is planned for public exhibition in early 2021.
The Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct takes in about 4000 hectares of central Kosciuszko National Park including the alpine resorts. Special activation precincts are a whole of government initiative initiated by the Department of Regional NSW, to activate growth, development and employment in country NSW. They involve special legislation and funding to undertake predevelopment studies and develop fast track planning and approval systems, encourage private investment and better protect the environment from tourism.
National Parks and Wildlife Service is an active participant in the Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct that aims to increase year-round visitation in the region and accommodate the growing public interest in the park. The Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct is expected to conceive public infrastructure and tourism developments outside and inside the national park. Some developments proposed within the park may require a plan of management amendment before they are allowed to proceed.
The Snowies Iconic Walk aims to showcase the unique alpine ecosystems and breathtaking views of the Kosciuszko summit precinct. The concept reflects the vision for Kosciuszko National Park to be recognised as the premier destination for walking in Australia, with world class facilities that protect the alpine environment. The visitor experience improvement amendment to the plan of management in 2019 enabled the walk's elements. The amendment also enabled the Summit Precinct Walking Tracks Strategy.
The Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct provides the opportunity to expand and refine the Snowies Iconic Walk experience and provide a wider range of accommodation and other recreational opportunities for walkers and other visitors drawn to the concept.
Creel Bay is a hamlet within Kosciuszko National Park on the shores of Lake Jindabyne at the end of the Thredbo Valley Track. It contains historic staff cottages, a ski lodge and a works depot. We are seeking to adaptively re-use the best of the stone cottages and create a year-round accommodation precinct for park users. A preliminary master plan has previously been publicly exhibited. The Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct may provide supporting infrastructure such as jetty for a lake ferry or the opportunity for some more of the Creel Bay master plan to be actioned.
A business plan is in development for northern areas of Kosciuszko National Park including master plans for Yarrangobilly Caves, Currango Homestead and Kiandra. Additional accommodation is likely to be proposed at some locations to respond to demand and provide a wider range of park experiences in the northern area of the park. Some of the proposals may need an amendment to the plan of management. Although not in the Snowy Mountain Special Activation Precinct outlined above, the northern business plan may be included in the upcoming draft Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct amendment because of a shared focus on park accommodation.
The Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management (2006) requires regular upkeep and National Parks and Wildlife Service has a major review underway. As required by the plan itself part of this is a review of the conditions of the values of the park and the trend in those conditions. A draft of the review of conditions is in production and is expected to be released early in 2021. Following on from any plan amendments required by the Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct and Snowy Hydro 2.0 a full review and update of the plan is expected in 2022.
Kosciuszko National Park is home to the NSW alpine resorts Perisher, Thredbo, Charlotte Pass Snow Resort and Selwyn Snowfields, which are popular winter destinations. Private organisations operate the resorts under a system of leases granted by the Minister for Energy and Environment under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and the plan of management guides their administration.
All developments within the resort areas must undergo environmental assessment as part of the development application determined by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in consultation with National Parks and Wildlife Service. This framework for planning and approval in the alpine resorts is currently being reviewed by Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct.
The Kosciuszko National Park Cycling Strategy was adopted in 2017 and the Summit Precinct Walking Tracks Strategy in 2019. Such detailed strategies are required by the plan of management which provides the high order policy framework guiding recreation in the park. If extra tracks are proposed as an outcome of future planning, such strategies may need to be produced or updated to fulfil the plan's requirements.
The Saving our Species program funds National Parks and Wildlife Service to deliver strategies to manage threatened species within Kosciuszko National Park. In the 2019-20 program 21 species strategies are being delivered in the park. These include conservation programs for mountain pygmy possum, broad-toothed rat, corroboree frog, spotted-tailed quoll, Guthega skink, alpine she-oak skink, pale golden moth, feldmark grass, leafy anchor plant, Perisher wallaby-grass and montane peatlands and swamps. Key threatening processes being address include deer and hawkweed.
National Parks and Wildlife Service is participating in the government fire recovery program for the 2019-20 bushfires. We produced a summary of the environmental effects of the 2019-20 bushfires and what we are doing about it. In Kosciuszko National Park Some 240,000 hectares or nearly a third of the park was burned with one fifth being burned very intensely. Many huts including Delaneys Hut, Sawyers Hill Rest House, Happys Hut, Wolgal Lodge, Kiandra Court House, Pattersons Hut, Matthews Cottage, Round Mountain Hut, Bradley and O'Briens Hut and Four Mile Hut were lost. Plans are in development for the repair of some of these huts and also campgrounds, and other infrastructure.
We are making major efforts to support recovering wildlife, including feeding mountain pygmy possums, and more feral animal and weed control actions across the park.
The Kosciuszko Wild Horse Heritage Act 2018 recognises and protects wild horse heritage values in Kosciuszko National Park and enables active management of the wild horse population to reduce their impact on the park's fragile environment. Only 10% of the park's wild horse habitat burnt in the 2019-20 bushfires and National Parks and Wildlife Service and others continue to track horse numbers and distribution. The Kosciuszko National Park Horse Management Plan (2008) is currently in review with the aim of a draft being publicly exhibited in 2021.