Environmentalists have consistently questioned the environmental wisdom of a placing mountain bike tracks within the Mt Canobolas State Conservation Area. The “balanced” solution is to consider only having mountain bike tracks in the 1000s of hectares of State Forest surrounding the State Conservation Area, not within it.
At a recent Council meeting, State member for Orange, Mr. Phil Donato has reaffirmed his support for Orange City Council’s proposal for a mountain bike track on Mt Canobolas.
His support is based on its anticipated economic stimulus for the Orange community.
To qualify his support, Mr Donato has been quoted as saying, “I believe there can be the right balance found…. in considering the environment and the historical and cultural aspects of Mt Canobolas, but also ensuring that we have a facility up there that can draw in tourism, not only in NSW, but across Australia and internationally.”
Mr Donato’s comments have drawn opposition from environmentalists, who have consistently questioned the environmental wisdom of a mountain bike track within the Mt Canobolas State Conservation Area.
Cilla Kinross, President of the Central West Environment Council is one such environmentalist.
In her letter to the Central Western Daily (March 19, 2022), Dr Kinross says “The balance has been tipping away from the environment for decades, we need to find somewhere more suitable to place a huge, destructive bike track than in the middle of a beautiful island of rare remnant bushland.”
An obvious solution which can provide a balance is not in the Mt Canobolas State Conservation Area.
This is explained by Dr Andrew Rawson, President of the Canobolas Conservation Alliance, who says,” Balancing the competing interests of a single sporting group with the survival of species that are unique to Mt Canobolas is an easy equation.
The “balanced” solution is to consider only having a mountain bike track in the 1000s of hectares of State Forest surrounding the mountain, rather than Orange City Council’s current focus on the State Conservation Area.
This Conservation Area is the last refuge for a number of iconic species as well as an important Wiradjuri cultural site.
It is still recovering from the 2018 fire and is vulnerable to climate change.
Track development of any kind would be extremely dangerous as it would risk the extinction of some species and would permanently impact on cultural heritage.
The Forestry Corporation has stated (in the SEARS document from NSW Department of Planning and Environment.) that “State forests are a very suitable tenure for this type of a proposal.”
So, if the business case really stacks up, obtaining the right balance would see the tracks in the state forest and not in the State Conservation Area”.
By Nick King
The original of this post appeared as an article in the Earth First column of the Central Western Daily on Saturday 26th March 2022.