The Backcountry Trust (BCT) funds and supports volunteers to maintain huts and tracks in New Zealands remote back country. As part of this work they have been removing lead - a major threat to our back country kea. Thank you to all the volunteers and personnel at BCT!
Over the summer of 2018/2019 the Backcountry Trust renovated around 28 huts. All the ones in alpine zones we are now, at the very least, removing the lead nails and in particular the old roof ridging which has the lead flashing which seems to be the main target for kea. These are replaced with modern non-toxic fixings and flashings.
We are also starting to replace as much as possible the entire roof of the smaller huts that we are renovating in known kea zones. This is not a significant material expense and doing this work greatly improves the water tightness of the building and cuts down on long term maintenance costs for the hut.
Since the inception of this volunteer maintenance work the BCT has renovated or done basic maintenance on over 120 huts in the back country hut network and we are looking to increasingly lift the sustainability of this work and quality of the work being done.
Next summer our target is to do another 35 huts and there is a significant number of alpine huts still needing the lead removed and the roofs replaced. Our agreement with the KCT is one factor that helps us prioritise the projects we are currently funding and we appreciate the urgency of getting through this work because of the risk posed to kea by the old lead ridging and the known issues of kea in some places having high lead levels.