A REPORT has called for a big reduction in mountain bike tracks on Wodonga’s Hunchback Hill but stopped short of recommending the sport be banned in the area.
The independent environmental review seeks a 63 per cent cut to the number of mountain bike trails in the McFarlanes Hill reserve.
This would involve 9.4 kilometres of down trail, 4.6 kilometres of up trail and 700 metres of unspecified trail being closed, with two loops remaining.
They would be a 9.8 kilometre up-and-down main loop and a 4.3 kilometre mini up-and-down loop with both starting in the Felltimber Creek Road car park.
The proposed changes are among 17 recommendations in a report done by Yackandandah firm Red-Gum Environmental Consulting at the behest of Parklands Albury Wodonga which manages the area.
Parklands chairman Daryl Betteridge said an advisory group would be established to respond to the recommendations.
“The final alignment for those tracks is up for some discussion, but I think the fact there will be mountain bike tracks is one of the salient facts of the report,” Mr Betteridge said.
“There were calls for no mountain biking and calls for more mountain biking, this is a rational, sensible pathway forward.”
In a biodiversity study, Red-Gum managing director Damian Wall said the bike tracks were formed in a “haphazard fashion….without any formal cultural heritage due diligence assessment” with reference to appropriate design principles.
Mr Betteridge conceded his organisation had failed.
“Parklands Albury Wodonga acknowledges and accepts the review’s findings that tracks have been developed and built without following the correct planning process,” Mr Betteridge said.
“This has resulted in a poorly planned and developed network of tracks in an area that contains significant environmental values.”
The report on Hunchback Hill has been long-awaited, having been commissioned in 2016 and under reviewed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning since autumn.
Organised mountain biking has been banned in the area, pending the report.
Mr Betteridge declined to predict when it would return, but expects the changes foreshadowed to consume at least 18 months.
Mountain bikers and Protect Wodonga Hills figures will be invited to join the advisory group.