The discovery of illegal mountain bike trails on Mount Canoblas, which are also being used by trail bikes, has sparked an investigation by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
A group of Orange bushwalkers discovered the paths in the mountain’s State Conservation Area on Tuesday.
Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange member Peter West said the trails went for about one kilometre.
“Those responsible have built bike jumps, berms and carved paths through threatened plant communities,” he said.
Mr West said the trail-makers were “completely ignoring current legislation and regulations” for the park.
“We are shocked and disappointed to discover mountain bike trails have been illegally constructed in the State Conservation Area,” he said.
“Of additional concern is evidence of illegal access by trail bikes along the mountain bike trails, compounding the overall damage to this sensitive area and inhibiting its recovery from the intensity of the February bushfires.”
Mr West said he supported mountain biking but it should not be done in a conservation area.
Dr Colin Bower of the Save Mount Canobolas SCA group said threatened plant species were at risk.
“The trails have cut directly through a threatened community of silver-leaf candlebark trees within the conservation area,” he said.
“It is impossible to know what threatened plant species have been cleared through this illegal activity.
Those responsible have built bike jumps, berms and carved paths through threatened plant communities.Peter West, ECCO
“Small plants germinating from the soil are being destroyed by these illegal activities.”
Orange Mountain Bike Club vice-president Leo Presslaber said the club was not involved in the activity and did not condone the creation of illegal trails.
“It has got nothing to do with us,” he said.
“They are not part of the Orange Mountain Bike Club, we have sanctioned trails.”
A NPWS spokeswoman confirmed it had received a report about illegal trails.
“NPWS is investigating these claims,” she said.
“Mountain biking is usually allowed on fire trails on the Mount Canobolas SCA, however, currently the entire park is closed except for the road to the summit and the visitor area.”
She said $300 on the spot fines and penalties of up to $3000 or imprisonment could apply to offenders.
“NPWS does carry out monitoring including by surveillance cameras periodically,” she said.
It comes just days before public submissions close on October 1 for the Mount Canobolas SCA draft plan of management.
Plans for an extensive network of about 60 kilometres of approved mountain bike trails are part of the draft.
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE NEWS?
- Receive our free newsletter delivered to your inbox every morning, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up below.