Orange City Council and other mountain bike devotees appear intent on comparing Orange to Derby in Tasmania where mountain bike trails have become a boom industry.
Derby was a "tiny town" struggling to stay viable following the loss of its local forestry industry.
They have recovered their economy by creating a magnet for mountain bike riders, but not at the cost of sacrificing irreplaceable conservation land.In contrast to Derby, Orange is a bustling metropolis with a thriving tourism industry focussed on great fresh local food and superb cool-climate wine.
Derby had nothing until the mountain bike trails were established in former degraded and cleared land which had become reforested.
To suggest that the State Conservation Area on Mt Canobolas is in any way comparable to the regenerated bushland near Derby fails to understand the fundamental differences in these areas.
In a recent letter, Dr Colin Bower provided details of just some of the unique features of our mountain and its endemic flora and fauna, none of which can apply to a locality like Derby where the original vegetation had been cleared.
Regenerated bush land does not contain remnant populations of animals and plants that survive in original bushland like the small island preserved on Mt Canobolas as our State Conservation Area.
Orange already attracts its own special brand of tourist.
For example, next April, Orange will be hosting the Federation of Australian Wine and Food Societies' Victor Gibson weekend, a biennial affair bringing together wine and food enthusiasts from all over Australia and overseas.
They're not going to Bathurst or Dubbo (with their own variety of popular regional attractions) and are unlikely ever to go to Derby.
The weekend is being jointly organised by the Metropolitan Wine and Food Society of Sydney and the Sydney Ladies Wine and Food Society who have chosen to hold it in Orange because of our reputation for great food and fine cool climate wines.
These are also cashed up people prepared to stay in town (and a number will almost certainly extend their visit when they find out that FOOD week starts on that weekend) and to spend money in local restaurants and at cellar doors.
I am disappointed to hear our mayor espousing the anticipated economic benefits to Orange of treating our State Conservation Area as if it is nothing more than regenerated forest such as that in which the Derby trails are built.
A greater awareness of the value of biodiversity conservation could see the Orange region benefit from tourism generated by a gamut of attractions, including the natural landscape of the State Conservation Area, and even mountain bike trails constructed on forest land that does not have the rare biodiversity value of our mountain.