Environment Waikato has granted $20,000 towards the Te Waihou Blue Springs Walkway to expand educational opportunities from the project.
The project received $40,000 from the Environmental Initiatives Fund in 1999 to construct the walkway itself.
More than 10,000 people have used the walkway since February 2001 and there have been successful efforts to promote sustainable management of the ecosystem. About 85 percent of the stream is now fenced off from stock and the Walkway Committee was urged to speed up fencing off the remainder. The Streamcare group is used as a model for other Clean Streams initiatives.
The site is a regional tourist attraction and local communities are benefiting. In the walkway committee’s strategic plan for 2003-2005 there are plans for further development of the walkway, with an emphasis on increasing environmental education opportunities and promoting the site as a tourist destination.
The application asked for funding for a Trees In Schools Programme where schools would grow seedlings for the walkway while learning about environmental issues, and helping with the planting.
It would also cover annual planting work along the stream and walkway, provide a water life study area and educational resource kits.
The Council was told that the Blue Springs walkway was an excellent example of how Environmental Initiative Fund grants could help launch projects that grew into very successful Regional assets.
The committee was to be congratulated for developing a strategic plan that outlined the project’s future growth, and the project was now moving from a construction phase to an educational and promotion stage.