A new Plan of Management for the Mt. Canobolas SCA was released on 9 September 2019. This plan was the result of lobbying by the Orange Mountain Bike Club and Orange City Council for access to be granted to the SCA for the establishment of extensive mountain biking tracks and ancillary facilities. The current plan allows for new dedicated mountain biking tracks to be considered for establishment within the SCA, sets out the constraints on development, and outlines the process for evaluation and approval of proposals. Development of mountain bike tracks is considered in two places in the new plan, which are extracted in full below.
The Canobolas Conservation Alliance will be working to ensure the protection of the natural and cultural values of the SCA is at the forefront of the approvals process as set out in the new Plan of Management. It is our view that competitive mountain biking is completely inappropriate for the SCA since it would inevitably diminish habitat for biodiversity, damage cultural heritage sites and degrade the scenic amenity of large parts of the reserve.
General Description of Management of Mountain Biking in the SCA
Cycling will continue to be permitted on park roads and management trails. A concept plan to develop a substantial network of mountain bike single-track in the park and on adjoining lands has been proposed by a third party. The concept plan includes approximately 63 kilometres of mountain bike single-track traversing much of the park, except for the most environmentally sensitive areas east of The Walls Day Use Area. It also includes the development of a hub or track head at, or near, the Tea House Day Use Area (at the park entrance on Mount Canobolas Road) to provide riders and park visitors with facilities, such as a café or kiosk, toilets and services such as bike hire, transport shuttles and visitor information.
Mountain bike riding is an increasingly popular recreational activity and further opportunities for mountain bike riding and associated facilities in the park may be provided if deemed appropriate. Appropriateness must be assessed in accordance with the NPWS Cycling Policy and the Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Visitor Use and Tourism in New South Wales National Parks. Under the policy, decisions about the planning, development and management of cycling experiences are guided by:
- ecological sustainability
- appropriateness of the location
- the quality of the experience for cyclists
- the need to balance competing visitor demands
- consideration of opportunities and demand for cycling across the region, including on other land tenures
- visitor safety
- the availability of resources to provide and maintain the experience.
Management Strategies for Mountain Biking
The proposed development of any significant new mountain bike riding opportunities and associated facilities in the park would require the preparation of a ‘review of environmental factors’ in accordance with the Office of Environment and Heritage Guidelines for Preparing a Review of Environmental Factors and include public and stakeholder consultation.
The Tea House Day Use Area is poorly drained and receives very little visitor use. It will be closed and revegetated, unless it is used as part of the proposal for mountain biking.
- Provide and maintain sustainable cycling opportunities in the park that provide safe access to key features and destinations and links to cycling tracks outside the park.
- Continue to provide cycling opportunities on the park roads and management trails shown in Figure 1.
- Investigate the provision of sustainable single-track mountain biking opportunities and a hub or track head in the park. Considerations will include ecological sustainability, appropriateness of the location, competing visitor demands, visitor safety, opportunities on alternative sites, and the availability of resources to provide and maintain the experience. ’No go’ areas may be established in this investigation.
- If the investigation delivers a final proposal, prepare a review of environmental factors. Publicly exhibit the final proposal and the environmental assessment. Outcomes of the environmental assessment and the public exhibition will inform the final plan.
- If approved, construct and maintain any mountain bike single-tracks and any associated facilities in a way that avoids or minimises impacts on the park’s natural and cultural values and existing visitor experiences.
- Consider new agreements for the lease or licencing of land, buildings or structures within the park for the purposes of visitor facilities as required in accordance with Part 12 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the NPWS Property Leasing Guidelines.
- Provide additional car parking and other facilities at track heads as necessary to limit adverse impacts resulting from increased visitation associated with the provision of mountain bike opportunities in the park.
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