We now have more information on the situation at Frog. No doubt more will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
The Park will not be closed. Measures will be introduced in an attempt to restrict the spread of the disease.
The disease is a Phytophthora, but not cinnamomi. QPWS are still waiting for a positive identification of species. This fact complicates matters since almost nothing is known about how species other than cinnamomi interact within the Australian native flora. However, regardless of the identification, the die-back of some hundreds of grass-trees following the course of the downslope is the real issue, and a typical indicator of Phytophthora infestation.
Once an infestation occurs, it is there for good, and the plant community composition gradually changes over to more resistant species. Thus, rather than attempt to render Frog Phytophthora-free, the aim of the game is to stop the disease spreading to other crags. For this soil borne organism, this means preventing contaminated soil making it into other parks.
This week QPWS are installing a boot scrub station with the idea that climbers should sanitise their boots before getting into their cars and departing.
We (ACAQ) are thinking about what climbers can do to assist with this process, and we hope to release a set of best practice guidelines once we have a better understanding of the measures QPWS will be implementing.
So for the moment we are asking people to keep clear of the Park for this week to give QPWS a chance to get stuff done, but the following week should be good to go, provided you scrub your trail shoes at the station and make sure you are not carrying fragments of soil back with you in your rope bag, pack etc.
<ACAQ hat = off>