Highland Council Access Rangers winter projects and community engagement are underway
A small team of Highland Council Access Rangers continue to work throughout winter to assist the Access Officers in carrying out countryside site and core path improvements, whilst developing community engagement.
The work carried out throughout the summer season 2021, identified specific issues at locations across the Highlands and the winter season provides the opportunity to work towards resolutions that will benefit communities and visitors in readiness for the year ahead.
Tourism Committee Chair, Cllr Gordon Adam said: “The Seasonal Access Rangers team for 2021 were an asset to the communities they served and a welcome and engaging face for those visiting the Highlands. It is great that part of the team continues to work throughout the winter and can use the time to develop community relationships, work on projects and carry out improvements that will support communities and visitors in 2022. We ask the public to help play their part by familiarising themselves with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) to tread lightly on the landscape, act responsibly and nurture the environment to protect it for generations to come.”
Loch Duntelchaig and Loch Ashie near Inverness is a good example of some of the project work being carried out by the Council’s Access Rangers during winter and into spring. The area is very popular with both locals and visitors and provides an idyllic setting for recreational use. The large footfall of the area brings challenges that require monitoring and control to protect the fragile environment and for people to continue to enjoy. Working together with Scottish Water who own and manage the land surrounding Loch Duntelchaig and Loch Ashie, the Highland Council has facilitated the installation of low-level wooden barriers (Diamond Rail Fencing) that both complement the area and limit vehicle access whilst retaining pedestrian access for recreational use. This will also be placed in other areas around Highland.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) explains that when visiting the outdoors, you must behave responsibly. The main responsibilities can be summarised as -
•take responsibility for your own actions – care for your own safety, keep alert for hazards, take special care with children.
•respect people's privacy and peace of mind - do not act in ways that might annoy or alarm people, especially at night.
•help land managers and others to work safely and effectively - keep clear of land management operations like harvesting or tree-felling, avoid damaging crops, leave gates as you find them.
•care for your environment - don't disturb wildlife, take your litter away with you.
•Keep your dog under proper control - dogs are popular companions, but take special care if near livestock, or during the bird breeding season, and always pick up after your dog.
•If you need to light a fire, use a stove rather than an open fire.
•Use public toilets, if nature calls in the outdoors and can’t wait- carry a trowel and bury your waste or bag it and bin it.
•People are also urged to consider responsible parking of motor vehicles, don’t drive on soft ground as it causes erosion and ruts that will take a long time to recover. You could also get your vehicle stuck in the soft, often peaty soils.
The Highland Council’s Seasonal Access Ranger Team will be recruiting soon and will continue to work throughout the 2022 season to engage, educate and inform visitors on responsible use of the area and discuss the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC)
If you would like to volunteer to work alongside the community Access Rangers in your area for the 2022 spring/summer season, you can contact the team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org by phoning the Senior Ranger on 07909 051223
To find out more information about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code click here (external link)