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The Eumeralla Flora Reserve between Torquay and Anglesea is part of the Great Otway National Park and as such is governed by the National Parks Act. Over a period of many years, a network of illegal tracks have been constructed through the reserve for the purpose of recreational mountain biking. These tracks have resulted in severe damage to the environment including erosion and damage to plants and trees during track construction and the installation of jumps. The act of creating new tracks in a national park is highly damaging to the environment in what is a remnant and extremely valuable piece of bushland. The following is from a Parks Victoria document:
Increased informal and unplanned construction of trails has been damaging the natural environment through fragmentation of vegetation communities, erosion and soil compaction, and the spread of weeds and the plant pathogen. Phytophthora cinnamomi (Cinnamon Fungus) exists within the trail area. The majority of issue relates to broad-scale spread within and beyond the proposed area.
(Parks Victoria, Great Otway National Park Eumeralla trails proposal, March 2015)
GEC is concerned that Parks Victoria is considering legitimising some of the these “cut” tracks with the intention of creating a formal mountain biking area utilising tracks that have been constructed illegally. GEC acknowledges that national parks host a variety of leisure activities and does not seek to have cycling in the parks prohibited. There is already an extensive network of official management tracks that are available for mountain biking, walking and trail running. GEC is greatly concerned about a possible precedent of legitimising illegal tracks in a national park. It is our position that the illegal tracks should be closed and rehabilitated. We ask the mountain biking community to please be content with using the network of management tracks only.