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Expansion of mountain bike trail network divides Tasmanian community

Expansion of mountain bike trail network divides Tasmanian community
July 23, 2017

A community on Tasmania's east coast is divided over council plans to build a $4.5 million mountain bike trail network.

Plans for the 66-kilometre Stacked Loop Network south of St Helens, and the Bay of Fires Descent Trail, have some residents worried about the environmental impacts.

The Tasmanian Government has committed $1 million to the Stacked Loop Network, which will be stage two of the Derby track - the venue this year for the Enduro World Series mountain bike event.

However, the ABC has reported some local residents as being concerned about the impact on flora and fauna.

Landscape Ecologist and St Helens resident Christine Hosking told the ABC “there's a very rare little velvet worm in this environment living right here that doesn't exist anywhere else.

"It lives in leaf litter and something else needs to eat that worm and so on up the food chain, until we get to the masked owls that are now a threatened endangered species in Tasmania.

"Every time you disturb habitat and bush is lost, all those species and that biodiversity gets affected."

Local resident Todd Dudley said he did not believe the mountain bike trails would benefit the whole community, commenting "connecting walking and bike tracks between St Helens and Binalong Bay and St Helens Point would be a far more benefit to the local community than these bike tracks.”

Dudley fears that "mass tourism" is being prioritised over the environment.

Break O'Day Mayor Mick Tucker said Council was considering the environmental impacts of the trails, telling the ABC “we've doing an awful lot of work with the flora and fauna and, as I said, we've got experts in that field, highly reputable experts and all of that's been done.

"The actual building of it will take probably 12 months but we've got to get the final approval process done and as council, we're the same as everyone. We have a very strict guideline that we follow."

Mayor Tucker said the economic impacts on the town would be immense, adding “there's a possibility of around 80 to 150 full time jobs that could be generated by the introduction of the mountain bike tracks.

"So to our economy, to our increasing population, increasing our rate base, it ticks all the boxes."

The Break O'Day Council has budgeted $600,000 for the project, while the Tasmanian Government has committed $1 million and the Federal Government has pledged $1.6 million.

Local resident Simon Holmes also highlights how the trails are engaging local youth.

Holmes, who runs a program with disengaged youth in St Helens, and often takes the young people to trails in Derby and the Blue Tier explains “there's not that much to do for kids in St Helens, and getting kids out into the bush on mountain bikes is just transformative.

"Not only do the kids get out into nature and really learn to appreciate the natural environment but they also get fit and it keeps them occupied."

Holmes said a trail network in St Helens could be life changing for young people in St Helens, concluding “not only for their own personal health and wellbeing but also in terms of careers in adventure guiding, mountain bike maintenance and tour guiding."

Images: The Enduro World Series in April attracted thousands of people to Derby (top) and Scottish rider Mark Scott during the third stage of the event (below). Both images courtesy of the Enduro World Series.

23rd July 2017 - EXPANSION OF MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL NETWORK DIVIDES TASMANIAN COMMUNITY

7th April 2017 - HUGE WEEKEND FOR SPORT EVENTS IN TASMANIA 

16th May 2016 - TASMANIAN COUNCILS AIM TO EXPAND MOUNTAIN BIKE TOURISM 

23rd March 2016 - TRIABUNNA NAMED AUSTRALIA’S TIDY TOWNS 2016 WINNER

16th April 2013 - MOUNTAIN BIKING TOURISM BOOST FOR LAUNCESTON 

16th July 2012 - TRC TOURISM GETS $1 MILLION TO IMPROVE VISITOR EXPERIENCES IN NATIONAL LANDSCAPES 


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