The proponents of mountain biking have not adequately considered alternatives to the SCA for the development of a mountain biking industry. They have adopted the standpoint that Mt Canobolas SCA is iconic and they want it for mountain biking.
There are perfectly adequate opportunities on the mountain to develop the industry without destroying the conservation area. The SCA is a small reserve with exceptional biodiversity values. A huge, dedicated trail network (72 kms proposed within the SCA itself) and vastly increased visitor usage would risk the very values the reserve was set up to protect. The SCA should be protected for its biodiversity and cultural values, with only current passive recreation pursuits available to the wider public, both local and visiting, retained.
There is no objection to a competitive mountain biking project, per se, and all the benefits it might bring to the Orange region. But why does it have to involve trails constructed in the SCA?
The reasons for targeting this venue are beyond understanding given the other possible options. 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 which are public lands. Given that these forests cover a significantly larger area than the SCA (near 10,000 ha compared to the SCA’s 1,672 ha, i.e. six times the area) and share very similar mountainous topography, why could not additional trails be located there?
- Pinnacle Reserve is already identified as a Trailhead for the mountain bikers, readily linking to the forest areas via existing roads.
- The former Earth Sanctuary, part of Orange City Council’s “Lake Canobolas Precinct” has already been transformed into what was intended to become “Orange’s premier mountain biking destination”.
- All of the mooted economic benefits could be realised by developing the biking facilities in another venue, without controversy, or impinging on conservation land.