The next phase of community consultation on a proposal to build a mountain bike trail network on Mount Canobolas begins with a community forum in February.
This phase is part of a multi-faceted consultation process involving stakeholders with specific expertise around the spiritual, biological, structural and economic factors of the proposed development.
The next phase is aimed at encouraging members of the general public to have their say on the proposal.
In October Orange City Council appointed Bathurst-based firm, The Environmental Factor, to complete an independent assessment and to work with expert track designers, Dirt Art, to see if tracks can be positioned to avoid sensitive areas. A team of experts, including environmental scientists, archaeologists, cultural experts and special track designers have started work with preliminary site visits.
Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said the preliminary work had identified a range of areas on the mountain which need to be avoided should the proposal go ahead.
“The initial proposal we put to the public was merely a concept plan showing what was theoretically possible on the mountain,” Cr Kidd said.
“The original concept has been useful in generating discussion around the possibilities for tracks to attract mountain bikers to the region to enjoy the beautiful mountain, along with other trail user groups.
“But I want to make it very clear, we are starting from scratch and the first steps we are taking is to identify every single area of significance on that mountain so we can determine if tracks are possible.”
Orange City Council’s Sport and Recreation Policy Committee Chair Jason Hamling said Council had engaged consultants to study every element of significance in the state conservation area.
“The consultants will develop a design sympathetic to these constraints, which will be exhibited, and take into account all of the opportunities and possible limitations the natural and cultural landscape provides.
“The Environmental Factor, along with specialists in the field, Apex Archaeology and Dirt Art, have already identified a range of threatened species living on the mountain which is very exciting. We knew there were Barking Owls in the area and it’s great to have confirmation from the consultants that they’ve recorded those bird calls. They’ve also identified Yellow Bellied Gliders living there as well as probable habitations of Squirrel Gliders.
“There are also sites of significance for Wiradjuri people and several members of the community are working closely with the team’s archaeologists to identify and conserve those areas to ensure they remain protected from any track design.”
Orange City Council’s Infrastructure Chair Jeff Whitton said the general public was invited to come along to a community information session commencing 5.30 pm on Thursday 25 February 2021 at the Orange Civic Theatre.
“This project has generated a lot of community discussion, which is good,” Cr Whitton said.
“I’d like to invite those community members to direct their discussions towards this community workshop.
“Council will not be proceeding with the proposal if the track design does not measure up environmentally and this workshop will provide Council, and the community with information on where the assessment is up to, what it’s looking at, what the limitations are and above all, we can all ask questions.
“This is a hugely complicated proposal which must consider the social, economic, cultural and biological issues all at the same time.