EARTH FIRST | Mt Canobolas State Conservation Area: a vital component of our regional heritage

Most people would agree that respect, reason and compromise, all mentioned in an earlier editorial, letters and comments, are important considerations in the current debate about the construction of dedicated mountain bike trails within the Mount Canobolas State Conservation area (SCA).   As a retiree who has been able to enjoy and appreciate the SCA, I’m appalled that Orange City Council would consider suggesting that extensive, dedicated mountain biking trails should cut through this remnant conservation area.

The SCA is a small reserve with exceptional biodiversity values. A large, dedicated trail network (63 kms proposed within the SCA itself) and vastly increased visitor usage would risk the very values the reserve was set up to protect. There is no objection to a competitive mountain biking project, per se, but it should not involve trails constructed in the SCA.  There are ample highly suitable public areas on the mountain and close to Orange that could be developed to meet all the needs of the wider mountain biking community.  Consider for instance:

  • Upwards of 50 kms of bike trails over some 12 identified tracks (already advertised internationally at trailforks.com) cut through Canobolas and Glenwood State Forests. Given that these forests cover a significantly larger area than the SCA (near 10,000 ha compared to the SCA’s 1,672 ha) and share very similar topography, could not additional trails be located here? Pinnacle Reserve is already identified as a trailhead for the mountain bikers, readily linking to the forest areas via existing roads.
  • Kinross State Forest already contains sufficient trails to host State-level competition. These could be upgraded and extended.
  • All of the mooted economic benefits could be realised by developing the biking facilities in another venue without impinging on conservation land.
  • The SCA should be protected for its biodiversity and cultural values, with only current passive recreation pursuits available to the public.

The Draft Plan of Management currently on public exhibition for comment (check it out at the Orange Library) has been prepared, under direction from the Minister for the Environment, presumably to facilitate consideration of Orange City Council’s proposal.  Given the Government’s push to commercialise our national parks and reserves, this is yet another nail in the coffin for NPWS and our state’s natural heritage.

An edited version of the above appeared in Earth First in the Central Western Daily on 14 September 2018.

Jenny Medd


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Written by Col Bower

I am an environmental consultant trained in entomology and botany. I am an accredited Biobanking Assessment Method Assessor with almost 30 years experience in biodiversity assessment. I have visited, observed and studied Mt Canobolas since 1980.