Unauthorized Trail Creation

Plenty Gorge MTB Club requests that no new trails are built in Plenty Gorge Park.

The aim of creating PGMTB was to represent mountain-bikers – including those who have built trails in the past. We were asked to promote a ban on trail building until the existing network is assessed. We can certainly relate to the fact that it has taken an awfully long time for the assessment to get under way – although we don’t believe it has been a stalling tactic by Parks Victoria (PV) – one of us is a public servant, and we can absolutely understand why these things take so long. Of course we wish it could all be done much more quickly. The trouble with our community not waiting for the assessment is that building new trails means that the process will take even longer – and it doesn’t help our cause when we ask them to keep open the established network. PV has already allowed us to continue to ride illegal trails built on their land – on the condition that we don’t build any more without their consent. They helped us to upgrade the jump track which was in a pretty sad state – as a result it should last longer and be a whole lot safer, while maintaining the fun factor. There are loose plans being discussed to open up previously un-ridden areas for new trails in future, but all this gets put on the back-burner while they allocate resources to locate, assess, manage, negotiate, signpost, and/or close the new trails popping up.

The Betty Bell trail was given a provisional green light by the previous Ranger-in-Charge, as it is a much more sustainable route than the old trail going straight up the spur. The bridge which was in place at the bottom of that spur trail started this whole process of advocacy and the creation of PGMTB. Yes, there are issues with the Betty Bell trail, especially given the amount of traffic it gets these days – it is the primary conduit for MTB traffic between the north and south sides of the river, travelling between Greensborough/Bundoora and Plenty – but it’s held up remarkably well and we intend to keep that route open indefinitely. That said, the heritage values of the Happy Hollow Farm must be protected, and if the Rangers see an unacceptable risk to the historical sites around there, they will have no choice but to shut the trail down.

PGMTB cannot support the creation of any new trails at this time. We are working together with PV to get the existing network assessed. This week we are lodging a preliminary submission which aims to keep over 90% of the existing trails open in the area bounded by Blue Lake, the Plenty Service Reservoir (the water tank), Oatland Rd, Happy Hollow Farm and the Plenty River. This submission will be used by PV Rangers to help them complete their own report (to their management) about which trails should be kept open, and why. The Rangers have walked most of these trails. The new PV Team Leader looking after Plenty Gorge Park comes from Kinglake, where he oversaw the construction and opening of the Bowden Spur DH facility – so he knows his stuff. PV staff are doing their best to work with us, and we are doing our level best to represent the interests of all mountain-bikers. We ask you all to help us in this task, and stop building any new routes or tracks. Sure, keep riding what’s already there. Maintain it, within reason; be respectful of the natural environment and any historical artefacts you might encounter. Don’t cut trees or saplings – this is bad practice, and it won’t be tolerated by PV. Do you know which plants are endangered or protected? Do you know what animal’s habitat you’re uprooting, or how your work will affect the local ecosystems? We will be running working bees, once we know what trails we’re allowed to keep – there’s no point doing it now if it’s going to be closed down, right?

Please be patient. There is a fantastic network of trails that we can happily continue using, and people are coming from far and wide to ride here. If you want to be involved in shaping the direction of mountain bike facilities in the Park, get on board as a Club Member. Nominate yourself as a subcommittee member and help us make this happen.

We look forward to seeing all of you out there, enjoying the trails as they are.

Thanks,

The Administrative Committee, PGMTB

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