Forestry moves quickly to stop hunting near mountain bike park

15th January 2021

Source: Newcastle Herald | By: Scott Bevan | Posted: January 15, 2021

Forestry Corporation of NSW has quickly moved to prohibit hunting around a popular trail at the Awaba Mountain Bike Park, after riders were alarmed to discover the potentially lethal clash of land uses.

As revealed in the Newcastle Herald on Friday, Hunter Mountain Bike Association members found out that the park's development trail, aimed at attracting families, was marked on a map issued by the NSW Department of Primary Industries as an area where hunting was permitted.

"There's a very definite overlap," Clint Musgrove, the association's president, told the Herald on Thursday. "It's a concern, to say the least."

While the DPI issued the map for licenced and registered hunters to use, a department spokesperson said Forestry of NSW was responsible for the mapping, including exclusion zones.

The Awaba Mountain Bike Park is in the Olney State Forest at the foothills of the Watagan Mountains. Under its agreement with Forestry Corporation, the mountain bike association believed the park was in a hunting exclusion zone - until it came to light that the development trail wasn't.

On Friday, Forestry Corporation told the association the map had been amended and the development trail was no longer marked as being in a hunting area.

"In response to community concerns, Forestry Corporation has now increased the area where hunting is prohibited around the mountain biking facility by an additional 20 hectares," a Forestry Corporation spokesperson said in a written statement.

Association members were relieved to hear the map had been changed.

"The club's very happy with this outcome, and that it was acted on very quickly," Mr Musgrove said. "It's very reassuring to know the new map will be in place and all relevant parties contacted."

The DPI spokesperson said the department was enforcing the new exclusion area, "effective immediately", and had updated the written permission of those who had booked to hunt in Onley State Forest.

"Registered hunters affected by this change have been alerted via text message and provided with their updated written permissions and advisory maps," the spokesperson said.

State MP for Lake Macquarie, Greg Piper, who contacted Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall about the issue on Thursday, praised the "excellent, quick response".

"I'm just glad the whole process played out without any incident having triggered it," Mr Piper said.

The Forestry Corporation spokesperson said hunting had been taking place in parts of Olney State Forest since 2013.

"No community concerns have been directly raised with Forestry Corporation about hunting in this time, but we will be in touch with the club to discuss the robust measures that are in place to protect their safety in the forest," the spokesperson said.

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