Toowoomba Regional Council has continued to pursue the development of mountain biking tracks despite significant concerns raised by locals.
One local who has lived in Prince Henry Heights for 42 years has described witnessing how the gradual clearing of bushland over this time has impacted negatively on local wildlife. Their yard which was once full of koalas, bandicoots, goannas and 40 different species of bird, is now void of wildlife activity. The development of mountain bike tracks in Redwood Park will continue the disappearance of local wildlife.
Over the years Friends of the Escarpment (FEP) have spent many hours clearing the park of invasive weeds including Pivet and Lantana so that native trees and plants can flourish. If Mountain Bikes come into the park, they will unwittingly carry on their wheels many seeds which will again lead to the spread of these invasive plants. Introducing Mountain Bikes into Redwood park would restrict the activities of volunteers wanting to work in the park and community members wanting to bushwalk. This has already been seen in Jubilee Parks where the speeds of bikes travelling down the trails make it unsafe for other visitors to walk around the park.
These concerns were raised in a letter to Mayor Cr. Paul Antonio. A response was provided on behalf of the Mayor by Michell Condren the Manager of Parks and Recreation Services. The response included references to the environmental assessment of Jubilee and Redwood Parks which is expected to be completed by December 2021. The first stage of the assessment saw the engagement of Redleaf Environmental, ‘focusing on flora survey desktop and field work, along with undertaking key stakeholder consultation with local environmental groups/ key personnel to obtin local knowledge of the parks’ environmental values (flora and fauna), to support/inform their work’.
Mr Condren also wrote;
‘Immersing yourself in natural settings is part of the experience and appeal for mountain bikers (not dissimilar to bushwalking, birdwatching and other recreational pursuits in such areas), and so no-one, including mountain bikers, would be interested in, intending to, or permitted to undertake any trail development that would damage the natural values of a natural area such as Jubilee Park, Redwood Park, or any other natural setting or bushland area.’
This response is concerning as it compares the activity of mountain biking to that of bushwalking and birdwatching. Mr Condren stated that ‘no bushland parks are available for exclusive use by any users, mountain bikers or otherwise’. While this statement sounds inclusive, it is dismissive of the impact that mountain biking has on the environment and other park users. The speeds and distances covered by mountain bike riders are significantly higher than those who are on foot. Meaning their impact on the environment is much higher than walkers. Additionally, if these tracks are utilised for mountain biking carnivals, the noise levels will increase scaring away many of the timid species that are currently residing in Redwood Park. It is hoped that any proposed mountain biking tracks will be developed in areas which are not home to significant populations of vulnerable plants and animals.
DDEC will be watching the progression of this proposed project with invested interest. We will continue to work alongside local groups to facilitate discussions with the Toowoomba Regional Council to work towards a development strategy which will ensure the ongoing preservation of our region’s environmental assets.
If you would like more information on the campaign to Save Redwood Park, you can follow SAVEREDWOODPARK on twitter, or come down to the Koala TeaTree tent at the Toowoomba Farmer’s Markets on June 5th to chat to the Save Redwood volunteers.