Bike trail proposals enabled

More than 100 parcels of public conservation land in Otago can now be considered for potential bike trails after the New Zealand Conservation Authority approved a partial review of the region’s conservation management strategy (CMS).

Approved in 2016, the Otago CMS listed where bike trails were allowed on public conservation land in the region, however, that was largely just a list of existing trails.

By 2019, Doc had received several proposals to build new cycleways and bike tracks on public conservation land, but because the land they were proposed for were not listed in the Otago CMS, none of the proposals could be formally considered.

Doc statutory manager John Roberts said the partial review was done because the existing Otago CMS did not reflect the increased public interest in expanding mountain biking, or the opportunities for it.

Otago Conservation Board (OCB) chairwoman Tara Druce said after the partial review approval — which became operative yesterday — another 112 parcels of public land could now be considered for new trails, along with most marginal strips and Doc-administered recreation reserves in Otago.

New proposals would be assessed according to the new provisions of the Otago CMS, to ensure they upheld conservation and recreation values, including engagement with Ngai Tahu, and consultation with the OCB.

Public consultation attracted almost 1750 submissions.

Queenstown Mountain Bike Club president Pete McInally said the decision would make the development of new trails far easier than the process had been to date.

Mr McInally said while it was not a foregone conclusion any new trail would receive consent, at least now proposals could be considered.

The club had submitted for "as many things as we could think of — like a wish-list and a five-year plan" — in all, that was more than 20 trails.

"We will be applying to Doc [for resource consent] for some of these trails on a priority basis, as it is unlikely all will proceed straight away.

"We are excited about all of the trail options being accepted and look forward to working on some new tracks to ride locally ... it all seems really positive," Mr McInally said.’

Queenstown Trails Trust chief executive Mark Williams is overseas at present and could not be reached for comment.



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