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Access Rangers are an 'asset to the community', says tourism chair

By Tom Ramage

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A team of Highland Council Access Rangers are continuing to work throughout winter to assist with countryside site and core path improvements.

Work completed last summer had helped them identify specific issues at locations across the Highland region, and the winter season has provided them with the opportunity to work towards resolutions that will benefit communities and visitors in readiness for the year ahead.

Tourism committee chairman, councillor 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 an example of some of the project work being carried out by the Access Rangers during winter and into spring. The area is popular with both locals and visitors and provides an idyllic setting for recreational use.

But the large footfall of the area brings challenges that require monitoring and control to protect the fragile environment.

Working together with Scottish Water, who own and manage the land surrounding Loch Duntelchaig and Loch Ashie, 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, and to not drive on soft ground as it causes erosion and ruts that will take a long time to recover.

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 accessrangers@highland.gov.ukor by phoning the Senior Ranger on 07909 051223

To find out more information about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code click here.

Fence improvements taking place in the Highlands are one project being worked on by the Access Rangers.
Fence improvements taking place in the Highlands are one project being worked on by the Access Rangers.

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