Environment Agency: Unnecessary to Close Popular Reykjadalur Hiking Trail

reykjadalur iceland hveragerði

The hiking trail in Reykjadalur has become treacherous due to heavy foot traffic, according to local authorities. RÚV reports.

The trail is described as a muddy mess, with numerous pools of water forming and parts of the path eroding. The mayor of Hveragerði, the town where the trail is located, is calling for it to be closed until it can be repaired. However, the Environment Agency of Iceland has rejected the request, stating that there is no immediate danger to hikers.

See also: Vital to Prevent Travellers Hiking Near Glymur in Winter

The area has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, with many visitors hiking the trail over the Easter holiday. Local rescue teams have expressed concern over the conditions and have been monitoring the situation. They warn that the trail is becoming increasingly dangerous, with some sections starting to give way.

Despite the warnings, some tourists seem unfazed by the conditions and continue to visit the popular spot.

In Focus: Privately Owned Tourist Sites

With increasing numbers of tourists visiting Iceland, local authorities have found it difficult to preserve the conditions of natural sites while still maintaining access for the public. The case of Reykjadalur is the latest example of this balancing act.

With Growing Debts, Árborg Municipality Nears Bankruptcy

Selfoss - Suðurland - Ölfusá

The municipality of Árborg in South Iceland is facing financial difficulties due to inflation and a decline in real estate revenues.

Following an assessment of the municipality’s financial situation by international accounting firm KPMG, the municipal council has called a meeting with residents to discuss the town’s financial position, which is reportedly extremely challenging compared to other municipalities.

The town has taken out loans with increasing interest rates in recent years, and the council fears that they may be on the verge of bankruptcy, with a negative net worth of ISK 76,000 [$550, €509] per resident. In contrast, other comparable towns like Reykjanesbær, Mosfellsbær, Akureyri, and Akranes have positive net worth per resident.

See also: No Gender Pay Gap in Árborg

The town has been in financial trouble for a long time, with a negative net worth per resident of ISK 20,000 in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic cannot be entirely blamed for the financial situation, but the town invested heavily in infrastructure and construction in recent years, including new schools, sports facilities, and a kindergarten, which have contributed to the financial issues. The council is concerned that they may have to resort to layoffs and selling off assets to address their financial problems.

Mayor of Árborg Municipality, Fjóla Kristinsdóttir, stated to Vísir: “I expect there will be some streamlining. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. But of course, we are not going to pay off the municipality’s debts by just streamlining operations. There needs to be more done.”

Árborg’s debt is approximately ISK 28 billion [$205 million, €188 million], with increasing debt-to-income ratios. The council is currently discussing possible solutions, including raising taxes, reducing spending, or selling assets. However, the town’s mayor notes that many of the investments made in recent years have been necessary due to the town’s growing population, and it is challenging to balance the needs of the community with the financial constraints they now face.

First Puffins of the Year Sighted in Grímsey

puffins iceland

The first puffins of the year were sighted over Easter, on April 9, on Grímsey.

Grímsey, an island off the north coast of Iceland, is surrounded on most sides by steep sea cliffs which make for good nesting grounds for many sea birds.

Halla Ingólfsdóttir, director of Arctic Trip, a travel company that specialises in bird-watching tours on Grímsey, stated to RÚV: “They are starting to settle down and set up their nests. We were sure they would arrive on April 10. We even had a countdown on our website, so I was very happy that they came a day ahead of schedule.”

Ask Iceland Review: When do Puffins Arrive in Iceland?

Halla continued: “I went both south to the lighthouse and then to the shore and sure enough, both locations had puffins. But it’s been very windy, so you often see them taking off and quickly landing again.”

The puffin, alongside the plover, is traditionally considered a herald of spring. More are expected in the coming weeks, but the larger colonies generally arrive in Iceland later in the year, from the end of April to the beginning of May.

Read more: Golden Plover Arrives in Iceland


New Security Measures for Upcoming Council of Europe Summit

police station reykjavík

National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir discussed what Reykjavík residents could expect in terms of security measures for the upcoming Council of Europe last week on radio programme Bylgjan. 

Among other measures, Reykjavík residents can expect closures around the Harpa concert hall, armed escorts for council representatives, and a high level of alertness in the city.

Read more: Proposal to Amend Surveillance Law Causes Tension

“I would compare it to a large-scale civil defence exercise,” the commissioner stated to Bylgjan. “Policemen and police personnel will be coming from all over the country. It is also very exciting for us to participate in something like this and get to know each other. We are also training our people and strengthening the Icelandic police at the same time. So it’s a complex and extensive but very interesting and fun project.”

Many police officers from throughout the nation will be involved in the operations during the important summit meeting, but the commissioner could give no specifics on their numbers for security reasons. Although Icelandic security forces have considerable experience hosting such important events, even greater precautions will be taken this May.

“It is our country that these heads of state are visiting, and we need to ensure their safety. We are responsible for the safety of everyone who comes to us on official business. They will of course be accompanied by their own security teams, but we will be leading the way for the overall security plan and all operations,” Sigríður stated.

Read more: Council of Europe to be Held in Reykjavík

Sigríður also reported that the carrying of weapons by foreign police officers and bodyguards will be permitted in certain cases. She also stated that traffic disruptions are likely, but that all efforts will be made to keep the public informed.

Measures are also expected to be tightened at the airport. The alert level will be raised because of the presence of international delegates.

“What we are trying to do is simply rise to the situation that’s being brought to our country,” Sigríður stated.

In addition to the above measures, an expansion of surveillance cameras in downtown Reykjavík is also expected for the international summit.