Closure of Warrimoo Downhill Mountain Bike Track – updated June 2017
The Council decision to close the Warrimoo Downhill Mountain Bike Trail was taken in June 2016. This followed extensive monitoring of the site and subsequent consultation with the mountain bike riding community.
The area contains an endangered ecological community called Coastal Upland Swamp which is also habitat for several threatened native birds, plants and animals. Under NSW and Federal environmental laws, Ku-ring-gai Council is required to protect and conserve this ecological community and the native animals and birds that live within it.
The decision to close the Track was made after extensive monitoring of impacts on the site over several years; in particular, the impacts on hydrological function, sedimentation and erosion which in turn affect the surrounding environment and habitat.
In addition, an independent environmental assessment concluded that downhill mountain bike riding was not appropriate for this locality.
View independent report (pdf. 6MB) (pdf. 6MB)
As a result of the ongoing environmental monitoring and the independent environmental assessment Council has permanently close the track for the following reasons:
- The land where the track has been built contains the Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) Coastal Upland Swamp, which is protected by State and Federal legislation
- The land where the track has been built contains individually threatened species of flora including Tetratheca glandulosa and Melaleuca deanei - these populations are the largest in Ku-ring-gai
- The land where the track has been built contains three species of threatened fauna - Pygmy Possum, Heath Monitor and Red Crowned Toadlet
- A number of key threatening processes identified under State and Federal legislation currently exist on the site as a direct result of continued mountain bike use and trail and jump construction, including bush rock removal, clearing of native vegetation, removal of dead trees and wood, infection of native plants by Phytophthora cinnamomi and changes to landscape hydrology, which is adversely affecting the Coastal Upland Swamp and individual threatened species.
In addition to the environmental impacts, from a safety risk management perspective the track does not comply with Council’s safety standards for public recreation areas. Parts of the track have also been identified as a hotspot for illegal dumping.
Following the Council decision in June 2016, preliminary work was undertaken to close the site. This included signage advising the public that the site was closed and temporary fencing.
As of June 2017, the Council is carrying out more work to permanently close the track. This includes the following actions:
- Installation of fencing at main entrances to the site
- Reinstating natural soil profiles and revegetating tracks
- Stabilising the site to control erosion issues
- Reinstating natural hydrological flows to ensure the health and longevity of the Coastal Upland Swamp community is maintained
- Weed control works throughout the site
Exploring options for a new track
Council appreciates the value placed on this particular mountain bike track and its significance to the downhill mountain bike riding community. Before the decision to close the track was made, the mountain bike riding community was consulted extensively on the reasons behind the decision to close the track.
During 2016 the Council carried out a detailed preliminary investigation into a number of alternative locations in Ku-ring-gai which may accommodate mountain biking in an ecologically sustainable way. If Council pursues the development of such a facility, the area at Lovers Jump Creek Reserve (Golden Jubilee) is the best and most suitable site. If Council was to pursue track development however, a more detailed impact assessment, funding and community consultation would be required. Council is committed to reopening discussions with the downhill mountain bike community on the potential use of this alternative site.
Your comments and questions
If you have questions that are not already answered by this web page, please submit them here. Below are comments and questions already received from the public with accompanying answers:
The present decision is directly at odds with the official position set out in Council's 2010 Unstructured Recreational Strategy?
At the time this strategy was written Council's focus was on the appropriateness of the construction of the track from a safety perspective and remediation efforts to bring it up to recognised standards. Since this time however:
- A determination to list Coastal Upland Swamp as an Endangered Ecological Community under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 was made in 2012
- An assessment of Coastal Upland Swamp at the site was subsequently conducted in 2012, which further alerted Council to the adverse impacts of mountain biking in this location. This was forwarded to Trail Care, a mountain bike advocacy group based in Northern Sydney in June 2015.
- An internal risk assessment was also conducted in 2012 to assess the risks associated with the downhill mountain bike track from a legal, safety and environmental perspective. This risk assessment determined the track to be unviable in its current location pending further monitoring and investigations (considering the value of the activity to the local mountain bike community)
- Further monitoring and investigations were conducted between 2012 and 2015 to document the ongoing adverse impacts of the mountain bike activity in this location and to review the hydrology and topography of the site to determine if feasible design solutions existed to prevent the mountain bike track from causing damage. Through this monitoring it has become apparent that the track has continued to expand in length and individual riding features (such as jumps and berms) over this period.
- A determination to list Coastal Upland Swamp as an Endangered Ecological Community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 was made in 2014, further strengthening the need for protection of the Coastal Upland Swamp on this site and the legislative requirement of Council to ensure ifs protection
- The results of Council's ongoing monitoring and further investigations formalised Council's changed position on the Warrimoo downhill mountain bike track to be that of necessary closure.
The decision is based on a report compiled in 2012. However the trail was allowed to continue for a further three years
The decision to close the track was not only based on the 2012 report but also on a risk assessment conducted for the activity on the site and subsequent monitoring and investigations between 2012 and 2015.
For further information see the response to the previous question.
The 2012 report was compiled by persons having insufficient understanding of the proven knowledge associated with successful low-impact construction and maintenance of mountain bike trails in ecologically sensitive areas.
There are no grounds to this statement.
The 2012 report and subsequent monitoring and investigations have been conducted by appropriately qualified and experienced Council staff and independent consultants with expertise in both track and trail construction, environmental assessment and the management of endangered vegetation communities.
The decision to close the track was made after three years of continuous monitoring of environmental impacts on the site.
Concerns as to the unwanted consequences of closure
Council shares the mountain bike community's concerns about informal mountain bike tracks causing further damage to the environment. Monitoring will continue in the area and any new informal tracks will also be closed off.