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Thread: If you want to Ride Kowen/Sparrow now is the time

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default If you want to Ride Kowen/Sparrow now is the time

    Dear fellow mountain bike nuts and Sparrow Hill fans.
    The good news is always that your back tyre hasn’t gone flat overnight after your last ride.
    The bad news is that time is nearly up for Sparrow.
    We’ve always dreaded the thought that one day the harvesting machines will thunder into Kowen Forest and clear-fell our trees.
    That’s what happens in a commercial pine forest, and that time is almost upon us.
    But what if the ACT Government were to declare Sparrow Hill a recreational area? The trees that make the Sparrow tracks what they are to us could be saved.
    I have written to the MLA for Molonglo, Shane Rattenbury, who is also ACT Minister for Sports and Recreation, asking for his help to persuade the ACT Government to redesignate Sparrow Hill recreational. His office says they are investigating.
    A senior Forestry officer, acting in good faith within the constraints of the land manager’s mandate, has offered to work with us to save the tracks. He will still take the trees, but has offered mechanical help to re-expose the tracks as the massive debris of harvesting is cleared up. And he will direct the harvesters to avoid damaging the tracks as far as possible.
    Having built half of Sparrow’s 50km of tracks, I am very aware of the practical difficulties of succeeding in this task.
    Notwithstanding the damage I would expect, if the tracks were recovered we would be left with bare hills exposed to freezing winter winds, rain, strong, hot summer winds, dust and broiling sun.
    The intended replanting of the forest around the tracks would not see usable shade for 10 to 15 years. One can see how little shade there is at Stromlo after eight or nine years.
    Hopefully, our representatives in government won’t fail to acknowledge that the community itself has created a world-class mountain biking facility that many municipalities would give a great deal to have. And without touching the public coffers.
    We are the envy of visitors from far afield, and the website is getting hits from around the world.
    Every mountain biker can do something to help save Sparrow Hill.
    Please let Mr Rattenbury know your feelings about Sparrow and how you would like to see its future. His email address is [email protected].
    Last edited by johnny; 26-05-2017 at 08:37 AM. Reason: Change thread title to bring logging plan to people's attention

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    On the Way


    I'm in - great cause and hopefully some noise generates a positive response.

    After riding the Kow this year and not even being a regualr rider I believe its more than worth the time, given what has been invested by people like yourself there.

    "Dear Minister,

    I am writing to you today to further show support for the great community asset that is Sparrow Hill. As you would no doubt be aware logging in this commercial forest is about to begin and we as community users and volunteers feel we would like to raise concerns with you in regards to damaging and losing a very valuable asset. Understandably this is a commercial forest that is not in dispute, but what we would hope to achieve is a respectable outcome for all the hard work, volunteering and dedication that has gone into making this forest a world class facility.

    What I am asking you for as the minister for sport and recreation is that you tirelessly and strenuously investigate as many possible outcomes as you can to help save this tourism generating asset that this community of people have worked extremely hard for. It won’t just be the users that are effected but also local business who reap the benefits of what volunteers have created. A compromise of an exclusion zone around the trails of deforestation would be a decent starting point, however the goal should be the total preservation of the forest and trails for all to continue to use.

    I appreciate your time and respect that you have many matters of great importance, but please do not under estimate the power of a tight community which has spent countless man hours developing and fostering a venue which brings people from far and wide to the the ACT to enjoy this world class facility."
    Last edited by SF Trailboy; 12-11-2014 at 08:31 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Pastavore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Cat be dead.


    Thanks Alan, email sent. Here are my words:

    "Re: Sparrow Forest Mountain Bike trails.
    Dear Mr Rattenbury,

    I recently learnt through a Mountain Biking colleague that Sparrow Hill forest is due to be logged soon. Sparrow hill and Kowen contain some of the best mountain biking trails in the country, and host multiple big events. Being a Victorian, I recently dragged the family on a trip to Canberra for the primary reason of riding the wonderful network of trails the region has to offer. The amount of love and work that has gone into the Sparrow network is truly astonishing.

    Unfortunately clear-felling would have very negative consequences both in the immediate and medium term time-frames. I whole-heartedly support the concept of declaring the area a recreational area. I am sure that the long term economic consequences of this for the region would be very positive.

    Yours Sincerely

    Pastavore (well, insert proper name here)"

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012


    email sent, lets hope that we can make a difference!

  6. #6
    Senior Member k3n!f's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Probably at work


    Shit. The. Bed. Letter sent.
    Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

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  7. #7
    I'll tells ya! johnny's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    on the dunny


    I think getting the chaps involved that run the big events there like the Mont24 would be useful.

    If they can display how much revenue is generated and how much of that comes from interstate I think you'd have a stronger case to argue.

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  8. #8
    Legends of the Shovel Kowalski Brothers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Default Sparrow (and East Kowen) MTB trails

    Hi All.

    Just so you know, we (being the Kowalski Brothers and Self Propelled Enterprises) have been in discussions with the land manager and government about the mountain bike trails in Kowen and Sparrow Hill for some time now — both from our perspective as trail builders and also as event organisers (and riders more broadly).

    We invited Shane Rattenbury and his advisers out for an MTB ride through the trails about six weeks ago and during this time we talked about the trail network, the unique aspects of the area, the popularity of the trails and the scale and importance of events held in the area. Shane returned a few weeks later and started the Mont 24 Hour Race for us.

    Through these and subsequent meetings with PCS, I believe there is a very elevated awareness of the popularity and value of this area for recreational riding and for events. There is also a genuine an interest to learn more. They have praised the work of the trail builders in the area (Alan Anderson, Paul Cole, Kowalskis and their volunteers et al) and recognise that this is a significant contribution to mountain biking in the ACT region.

    As it happens, I have seen the forestry plan and Sparrow is not slated for clearfall at this stage. Other compartments on East Kowen side are however and we are working with the land manger to find solutions that will maintain the riding amenity whilst at the same time permitting normal (and in some cases necessary) forestry operations. We have always built trail under the clear understanding that that ACT pine forests are working plantations and that means at some point we will lose trail.

    What we would like to work towards is a system where the the recreation value is well understood and considered within the broader management plan. A recreation preserve is an ideal of course, but I believe there is plenty of middle ground in which we can work. Having a productive (and constructive) working relationship with the land managers and the various other stakeholders is fundamental to this process.

    Alan Vogt
    (aka Des Kowalski)
    Last edited by Kowalski Brothers; 12-11-2014 at 04:06 PM.
    The Kowalski Brotherhood
    'Every rock is a berm'

  9. #9
    Senior Member silentbutdeadly's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Somewhere flat.....


    Perhaps one way of contributing to the prevention of pine harvesting around the Sparrow and other trail networks is for riders and trail users to band together and offer to compensate Forestry ACT for the market value of the trees involved. Then it'll be much easier from a cost perspective to transfer land from a forestry designation to a non forestry designation.

    Save Sparrow. Buy a tree!

  10. #10
    Canberra Off-Road Cyclists Bucket Master's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Former CORC guy and well to the left

    Default Don't Panic

    OK - So in all likelihood the trees at Sparrow have a good while yet. I do not believe that there is any clear and present danger.

    I have a very close working relationship with the Minister and his office and have been working very closely with Des Kowalski to highlight the benefits of the Kow and Sparrow as riding areas for some time now. Indeed we recently hosted the Minister and a couple of his staff on a quick three hour tour just to show him what was out there. A couple of days ago I spoke with one of his senior advisers (initiated by them) for a good 45 minutes about the issue and provided them with a great deal of peer reviewed and forestry generated material on recreational users and forests. We have another tour with some very senior bureaucrats planned within the next three weeks. In other words there are strong relationships at very senior levels, they are aware of the issues and want to work towards positive solutions.

    Over the last 6 months I have been pulling together the data on the number of visitors that mountain biking brings to the community and have been working on a rudimentary cost benefit analysis (unfortunately I am no economist just an experienced recreational/urban/social/health planner and advocate) incorporating the health benefits that show just what these forests bring to the local community on an annual basis (not just the one off benefit of cutting down the trees).

    To cut a long I don't think that jumping up and down and e-mailing the Minister at the moment isn't needed nor, in the short term, will be particularly helpful. Rather it will mean that a key public servant will be forced to respond to concerns and it will not build (rather it will strain) a strong relationship with the community.

    I think that what is needed is a coordinated response to the development of more permanent recreational facilities and for this to happen in the first instance is for strong and productive relationships. Ultimately the development of such a facility will be through community consultation and it is at this stage that input will be best served.

    I know that Alan, Paul and the Kowalskis have put in more than 10,000 volunteer hours in developing a network of amazing trails and they should be commended for their efforts. I know the Minister and his team are very aware of this also. All things being equal, the relationship development and advocacy work that is happening in the background will see their work not going to waste.


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