Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Kosciuszko National Park bike plan - destructive and inappropriate

The National Parks and Wildlife Service last month placed on public exhibition a bike plan to allow for the construction of bike trails and further commercial use in Kosciuszko National Park.  The Colong Foundation for Wilderness believes that this proposed plan is illegal as it contradicts the management principles for national parks* that are enshrined in law. These principles require that visitor use proposals be compatible with the natural values of the park.

“If approved, this national park management plan will put visitor use before the primary nature conservation purpose of the park.  It will see mountain bike trails constructed through threatened species habitat and the NPWS approving that damage in a national park”, said Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.  

“Construction of shared trails will put riders and walkers on narrow tracks, which will be inherently dangerous, and the proposed ‘thrills and spills tracks’ just don’t belong in national parks but in fun parks and state forests”, Mr Muir said.

“The proposed plan boils down to a development proposal for the commercial benefit Kosciuszko Thredbo Pty Ltd that is suffering a financial down turn due to climate change,” said Mr Muir. 

“The plan would mean that the NPWS will be approving the clearing of native bushland to build mountain bike trails in Kosciuszko National Park causing environmental damage when there thousands of kilometres are perfectly good management roads that these riders can ride on without being troubled by motor vehicles”, he said. 

“The Colong Foundation believes that considerable funds proposed to be spent on these new mountain bike tracks should instead be spent managing the serious pest species problems in the national park,” Mr Muir said. 

 

“The thrills and spills style of mountain bike riding was imposed on Kosciuszko National Park in the early 1990s.  For example, the ‘Cannonball Run’ at Thredbo Village is a summer time bike track down one of the main ski slopes of Thredbo.  Bike riders use the Chair lift to ascend the mountain and then ride to its base, causing extensive erosion of the existing track,” said Mr Muir.

“The ‘Cannonball Run’ shoots mountain bike riders down a track at 80 kilometres per hour past walkers. The mountain bike generated erosion and the creation of spur tracks make a mockery of the ‘Meadows Nature Trail’ that is associated with it”, he said. 

  
Image left, a child next to the Cannonball Track. Image right, a dual use sign and an armour clad rider (Photos: Colong Foundation).

“Extreme sports, like the "Cannonball Run" in Thredbo, have no place in a national park.  Families coming to Thredbo now can't walk on the ‘Meadows Nature Trail’ for fear of being run down.  More bike tracks of this sort will mean pressure for more of this sort of visitor use conflict,” said Mr Muir.

The NPWS is putting endangered species at risk

“The Colong Foundation for Wilderness has no confidence in the NPWS undertaking its merit based assessments of park developments.  Last year in the Garigal National Park on Sydney Harbour the NPWS proposed the clearing of Coastal Upland Swamps, an Endangered Ecological Community for a mountain bike track.  The clearing will lead to a deterioration of the swamp as it allows an area of ingress for sediment, nutrients, pathogens and weed species both from construction and usage of the track,” he said

“The Garigal bike track proposal would clear endangered swamp land but the NPWS believes that this would not be a significant environmental impact!  The Environment Minister, Robyn Parker is at risk of losing her credibility if she approves this proposal,” Mr Muir said.

“Minister Parker must ensure that National Parks not become places for development opportunities to be exploited by the tourism industry or other high impact users,” said Keith Muir commenting on recent proposed changes to the National Park plans of management.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)

* Section 30E(2)(e) of the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974