DISASTER relief may have paid for the cost of extinguishing the Mount Canobolas bushfire, but councillor Russell Turner remains concerned no funds have been spent on necessary repairs to walking trails.
Cr Turner asked Orange City Council staff to write to Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton for clarification on when the popular tracks would be reopened after February’s bushfire “took away any recognition” of them.
“The government said there was no immediate funding to restore signage, etcetera,” he said.
“A lot of us would know the [Great] Volcanic Mountain Challenge was cancelled this year because of the trails’ non-existence, so to speak.”
Cr Turner said his son visited last weekend and although he had been to the mountain many times, he had difficulty finding his way.
“If nothing is done, the volcanic mountain challenge might have to be cancelled again next year and I remind council that nearly half of the people who go in that challenge are from Sydney and other parts of NSW, so it’s indirectly bringing money into town,” he said.
Mountain challenge race director Russell Tym said the committee had met with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) a month ago to discuss the repair situation.
“They’ve said they will try to have it ready for next year, but they’re not promising,” he said.
Mr Tym said a significant number of timber steps along the route had been burnt out.
“This year was the unlucky 13, we don’t want to have an unlucky [14th year],” he said of the prospect of cancelling another event.
“We would start it off again eventually, but the continuity wouldn’t be there.”
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An NPWS spokeswoman said organisers would be kept updated on progress and the department also wanted to see tracks opened as soon as possible.
“Assessments have been undertaken, the insurance claim approved and repairs will be underway as soon as possible, with due consideration of regeneration of species and the fragile post-fire landscape,” she said.
Western parliamentary secretary Rick Colless said there were environmental grants available for community organisations to apply for money.
“It needs to be done, no doubt about that,” he said of the repairs.