A CENTRAL west environmental group has appealed to keep Crown land accessible to the public.
The state government is conducting the Crown Lands Management Review, which will repeal eight pieces of overlapping legislation, some dating back to 1890, and replacing them with a single act.
The Central West Environment Council will make a submission on the white paper and president Cilla Kinross said the main concern was maintaining public access and protecting threatened species.
“Some of the Crown lands would come over to council and some areas will remain under Crown land and some will be disposed of,” she said.
“All these environment groups use these Crown lands for their monthly walks and people do orienteering in them. They do fishing and they do all these things which are quite legitimate pursuits, and once of course it goes to private land, they won‘t have access anymore.”
Dr Kinross said several areas of Crown land were important ecologically.
“South Mullion Reserve [near Clifton Grove] has some threatened species including the powerful owl and barking owl,” she said.
“Heifer Station Creek [at Borenore], which is a travelling stock reserve, includes pretty much all the eucalypt communities in Orange. It’s a very interesting area.”
Dr Kinross said Orange’s Crown land needed to be assessed before decisions were made on their future use, and environmental audits required prior to disposal might not be as stringent under the new legislation.
“Once it’s disposed of, it could be grazed and those values could be reduced or destroyed,” she said.
“We’re living in a situation where species are going extinct, the central west is shocking.”
The review was discussed at a NSW Environmental Defenders Office workshop at the Environmental Learning Facility on Sunday.
Orange Showground is also expected to be affected by the changes, with the Orange Show Ground Act 1897 set to be scrapped. The showground would then be dealt with under the new legislation.
Submissions close on June 20.
For information on the white paper and how to comment, visit crownland.nsw.gov.au.