PRESS RELEASE | CCA calls on OCC to abandon plans for mountain bike trails in State Conservation Area

The Canobolas Conservation Alliance (CCA) calls on Orange City Council (OCC) to finally abandon their proposal to construct mountain bike trails in the Mt Canobolas State Conservation Area (SCA).

“The Orange Mountain Bike Club’s new ‘Trail of Awesomeness’ in Glenwood State Forest (CWD 6/6/22) is an example of what can be achieved without the need to enter the SCA at all”, said CCA President, Dr Andrew Rawson.

Photo obtained from CWD 6/6/22, showing wide and deep ground disturbance, rock and vegetation removal during construction of the ‘Trail of Awesomeness’. This level of disturbance, especially over 70km of proposed length in the SCA, would cause irreparable damage to habitats there, as well as permanent destruction of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

“State Forests are the best places for this type of trail. They are already heavily disturbed by forestry activities, and by placing this trail in a recently harvested location ensures it’ll have at least 15-30 years of operation”.

“OCC’s claims that the State Forests were not available for their tracks are clearly false. Both the Forestry Corporation and the Mountain Bike Club see otherwise. The Club has persevered, obtained funding, and been able to construct trails which appear to meet all their needs.”

“There are many reasons why trails are not appropriate in the SCA” Dr Rawson explained. “Photos from the construction of the new trail show how much ground disturbance is caused by machinery, and the level of vegetation removal that would inevitably occur if constructed in high conservation value native forest. Damage is compounded on very steep slopes. This causes habitat fragmentation, direct removal of ground dwelling species and habitats, soil erosion and access for diseases, pests and weeds.”

“Preserved Aboriginal cultural artefacts would also be permanently disturbed or removed by any new trails in the SCA. At a time when the nation is finally recognising Indigenous heritage, why would anyone wish to harm direct evidence of it?” Dr Rawson queried.

The recently exhibited OCC Community Strategic Plan (CSP) highlights the value that the Orange community places on the local environment and heritage protection. The Engagement Report highlights the “beautiful natural environment” as a significant factor for why we live here.

“The new Council hopefully will see that the previous council’s plans for bike trails in the State Conservation Area are at odds with community expectations.”

“The mountain bike club have shown that they can create something they believe is “awesome” outside of the SCA. It is possible to have the best of both worlds – a protected and cherished SCA, and a nearby forest venue that caters for mountain biking”.

We request that OCC’s proposal for the SCA be abandoned and, the $1.5 million noted in the forward budgets be re-allocated to projects within the Orange LGA that would benefit the wider Orange community.

Dr Andrew Rawson   President, Canobolas Conservation Alliance,  6th June 2022