What is a thought process

Network Water East Tyrol

August 14, 2016: 40 years of the "Umbal Falls Water Trail"


On August 14, 1976, Hayo H. Hoekstra, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, ceremoniously opened Europe's first water trail on the Pebellalm in Umbaltal. Federal President Kirchschläger and Federal Chancellor Kreisky had sent greetings, as did ministers and governors.

The "Umbal Falls water show trail" made the violence of the falling water tangible and vividly explained the landscape-shaping power of water and the special features of this largest glacier stream on the southern side of the Alps.

The history:

Although Governor Wallnöfer signed the three-country agreement for a Hohe Tauern National Park in Heiligenblut in 1971, Tyrol participated in the planning of the large-scale Dorfertal-Matrei power plant project. For this project, a new variant was presented in 1973, according to which the Kalser Dorfertal, as a gigantic large reservoir, was supposed to hold the water from all the glacier streams in East Tyrol; a national park in Tyrol's Hohe Tauern would have become impossible.

The newly started power plant discussion in 1973 was the reason for the establishment of the Association for the Protection of the Recreational Landscape of East Tyrol, which - in addition to a large number of other activities - show the value of water in the landscape with the idea of ​​the water viewing trail and an advance payment for the intended Hohe Tauern National Park wanted to set up.

Which valley would have been better suited for this than the Umbaltal?As early as 1882, Josef Rabl had raved in his travel guide:

"From the mouth of the Dorferthal upwards the valley of the Iselbach bears the name Umbalthal. The same is not surpassed by any other Tauern valley in terms of beauty of rock scenes, mountain images and waterfalls".

With little financial means and considerable own contributions, the association expanded existing climbing areas and brought out a printed guide that was adorned with drawings and sayings by the Prägrater children and was very well received.

The opening of the Umbal Falls water show attracted international attention and made the Umbal Cataracts known beyond Austria.


The Isel in the Umbaltal became a symbolic river for the emerging Hohe Tauern National Park in the further discussion about power plants; The insatiability of the power plant planners (the Isel is completely "indispensable" for the storage power plant) dragged the discussion out for many years and aroused ever widespread public (and thus also political) resistance; after all, after the power plant project was canceled in March 1989, the Hohe Tauern National Park was also legally established in Tyrol in 1991.

Various power plant supporters tried for years to discredit the Umbalkatarakt, e.g. 1983 Matreis mayor Florian Köll: "In the last few years a few people have managed to use a targeted campaign to construct the ´famous Umbal Falls´ from the previously completely unknown Umbalbach in Prägraten. As this is one of the biggest manipulations of the Austrian public for years it is particularly important to me to relentlessly point out this profound misleading " (Quote from "Profile" from 1.8.1983).

Hundreds of thousands of people have now been personally convinced of this "manipulation".




Today is the Umbal Falls (Newly staged in 2012 by the Hohe Tauern National Park as the "Nature-Power-Path Umbalfälle") After the Liebburg in Lienz, it is the most popular photo motif in East Tyrol and a special attraction in the Virgen Valley (over 50,000 visitors annually).

The "Umbal Falls Water Trail" has made a decisive contribution to this - but also to the preservation of many other glacier streams in East Tyrol and thus to Tyrol's participation in the Hohe Tauern National Park.
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