ECTA Statement of Principles for the Northeast Avalon Regional Plan
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Our organization is dedicated to the protection of the East Coast Trail right-of-way in perpetuity. In addition, we are committed to maintain the wilderness character of the hiking experience offered by the Trail. As such, the Association is concerned with the preservation of the existing natural coastal environment on either side of the Trail. We believe that maintaining the wilderness character of the coastal zone on the Northeast Avalon is good public policy. It contributes greatly to preserving the very landscape that attracts people to the region, in addition to its critical importance regarding the protection of the East Coast Trail.
The Northeast Avalon coast is a unique environment where exposure to the elements has resulted in some exceptional adaptations of plants and animals. ECTA has undertaken many cleanups of illegal coastal dumps and polluted beaches, to help restore and preserve this natural environment. By maintaining the coastal zone free from development, the animals of the region can continue to have access to migration routes that allow them to move between larger protected areas along the coast, such as between the provincial and federal parks and other protected areas.
The tradition of public access to the coast is well established in Newfoundland and Labrador, for activities like hunting and berry-picking, as well as many examples of historic and heritage features along the coast, both of which are important to preserve. Moreover, apart from the few developments that must of necessity take place along the coast, such a maritime facilities, the land in the coastal zone is generally unsuitable for building, as it tends to be unstable and subject to erosion. This danger will only increase in the future, when the forecast increase in storms and extreme weather conditions occur.
To protect the trail the Association has requested the following principles be included within the Northeast Avalon Regional Plan.
* The entire length of the trail must follow a permanent, legally recognized and protected public right-of-way.
* The trail right-of-way must be on hike-able land, with respect to slope as well as in relation to any coastal cliff edge, where each of these features has a standard definition.
* The trail right-of-way must also take into account the possibility that the coastal cliff edge or other parts of the route may erode, such that the trail route may need to be relocated inland to other hike-able terrain.
To fully protect and preserve the environment surrounding the Trail the Association has requested the following principles be included within the Northeast Avalon Regional Plan .
* There must be a protected coastal zone that is of adequate size to allow an unimpeded experience of the wilderness environment, the ocean, the area’s natural life forms, the rocks, as well as, the history and the culture of the area.
* The protected coastal zone must also be of adequate size to allow for the integrity and sustainability of the natural environment, including the plant life, and animals and the birds that normally inhabit the area.
* The zone must include all land on the ocean side of the trail, plus an inland buffer wide enough, depending on the terrain, to maintain the wilderness look and feel of the trail surroundings.
* The actual width of the zone will vary from place to place, depending on how the trail corridor requirements will be realized under specific local landscape and ecosystem conditions.
* The trail protected zone must also be established in such a way as to achieve the goals of public safety, environmental protection, continuation of traditional land uses, and avoidance of degradation of both the trail bed and of the trail environment.
Our vision is about delivering a solution based on common guidelines for resource development that addresses the requirements of public access, right-of-way, public safety, adjacent buffers zones of varying degrees of environmental protection, and multi-use zones, all of which balance the need for resource use, livelihoods, and eco-system integrity. It is a vision of establishing a development environment based on defined principles, clearly communicated to all stakeholders, for the management of community and market expectations.
The provision and on-going support of these trail protection requirements is essential if the East Coast Trail is to continue the successful development and marketing of the Trail as a provincial, regional and community tourism and recreational product – a trail that is open, free and available to all.
Please also read our president’s call for support and the background document entitled East Coast Trail / The Challenge & the Opportunity . The meeting time and details are listed in our events section.