THE Yorkshire Dales National Park has issued an invitation to Dales lovers in all walks of life - some of whom have been seen as rivals in the past - to join forces so that access to open countryside can be achieved by consensus rather than confrontation.
Although many access problems have been solved amicably over the years, there have also been some bitter rows between landowners and organisations like the Ramblers' Association.
Now, the national park - which has been tasked by the Government to introduce new access maps by 2005 - is inviting all groups with an interest to come together and join a new Local Access Forum.
One role of the forum will be to advise the park authority on providing the new right of access to the open countryside, after the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill became an Act of Parliament last year. It will also have a very important role in advising on how it can improve the current rights of way network across the 2000 kilometres of footpaths and bridleways in the National Park.
Park planners are hoping to attract members from a range of countryside interests so that when the forum is formed later this year, it will comprise representatives of landowners, occupiers, walkers, horse riders, conservationists and representatives from the tourist industry.
Sue Hilder, access and recreation officer, commented: "This is an exciting and unique opportunity for people to get involved in improving access to the Dales' countryside."
For further details and an application form (to be returned by 6 September), contact Rachel Mozley on (01756) 752748 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, write to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Colvend, Hebden Road, Grassington, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 5LB.