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Plan to protect bush hits Panton Hill riders

2 Dec 10 @ 01:36pm by Shaun Campbell


Horse riders at Bunjil Reserve are worried about a council plan to cut the number of trails from nine to two


HORSE riders say they will be forced to use dangerous roads under a plan to ban them from riding on bushland trails near Panton Hill.


Nillumbik Council’s draft management plan for seven bushland reserves in Panton Hill, Smiths Gully and Watsons Creek, released last week, allows horse riders access to three trails.


But Kangaroo Ground Adult Riding Club members want two extra trails through Bulwidj and Bunjil reserves.


Club member Sharon Banner said the only alternative to the links was dangerous roads.


“They are little local links for horse riders to complete a safe ride,” Mrs Banner said.


“They are part of a bigger ride we go along.”


She said the present state of the reserves made “a very strong statement”.


“These trails have been used by local horses for decades,” Mrs Banner said.


“There is no evidence of major weed spread or infestation that can be in anyway attributed to horses using the reserves.”


Kangaroo Ground Adult Riding Club district commissioner Ness Stables said horse riders could use nine trails in five of the reserves.


She said the club would negotiate with the council during the plan’s upcoming consultation period.


Cr Lewis Brock said he thought a “credible compromise” had been reached.


“When it comes down to it, we want people to go there and appreciate it,” Cr Brock said.


“I am sympathetic to those who feel most strongly that they have been cut out so I hope council officers will listen to the community.”


Public consultation on the management plan starts this month with submissions expected to close mid-February. Details:


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Plan Panton Hill reserve protestors not horsing around


24 Feb 11 @ 04:00pm by Raelene Wilson


Horse riders walked and rode to the steps of Nillumbik Council offices to air concerns about closure of horse trails in the shire.



PROTESTERS got on their high horses earlier this week in a bid to stop Nillumbik Council locking them out of bushland reserves.


More than 150 horse riders took to Nillumbik Council’s Greensborough offices on Tuesday, February 22 to rally against a draft plan for reserves at Panton Hill, Smiths Gully and Watsons Creek.


Under the plan riders, who have had unlimited access to the trails since the council took them over in 2001, would have access to only four of the nine trails.


Protesters, many of them children belonging to Nillumbik’s nine riding clubs, waved signs calling on the council to “save the trails’’ and “protect our children’s future’‘.


According to the draft plan unregulated access to the trails has contributed to soil disturbance, compaction, erosion, habitat degradation, weed invasion and the loss of significant animal species.


A petition with more than 1547 signatures was presented to Mayor Helen Coleman.


Cr Coleman said it was important protesters recognised the management plan was only a draft.


Public comment on the draft plan the closed last week and will be considered by the council in April or May

Panton Hill Bushlands Reserve: Horsing around given go ahead

06 Jul, 2011 03:27 PM


HORSE riders will retain the right to ride through Panton Hill Bushlands Reserve after Nillumbik Council passed a controversial management plan for the reserve.


Last Tuesday, Nillumbik Council adopted the revised management plan for the bushlands which would allow horse riding on four trails through Wimbi, Bunjil, Bulwidj and Yirrip Reserves.


The final plan backflipped on a 2010 draft plan which would have meant horse riding was banned from the Bunjil and Bulwidj trails.


More than 130 submissions were received in response to the 2010 draft plan, and 40 people gave presentations to the council in May.


Nillumbik mayor Helen Coleman said an advisory group would be formed to oversee the recreational use of the reserves. A code of conduct would also be created to protect the conservation values of the reserves, she said.


Nillumbik Horse Action Group spokeswoman Cathy Giles said: ‘‘I’m delighted that horse riding has been recognised for its legitimate use of the trails for the past 50 years. These trails were set aside for the enjoyment of the community, not just the preservation of the bush.’’


While she acknowledged the impact of horse riding on the reserves, she said the lack of management of the reserves was ‘‘the single biggest cause of degradation’’.


She said the advisory group would allow both horse riders and conservationists to ‘‘turn our attention to improving the reserves’’.


Friends of Panton Hill Bushlands Reserve secretary Sueann Penrose said the group, which fought hard against horse riders, was very disappointed with the plan. 


‘‘The council have had no thought for the future environmental integrity of the reserves. 


‘‘We’re not anti-horses, but we think it is a shame the council bowed to pressure from the horse lobby.’’


Mrs Penrose said it might be difficult to reach a consensus on an advisory group.


Friends of Nillumbik chairwoman Colleen Hackett said: “Public scrutiny will certainly be on riders who will have the responsibilities of being joint custodians of the reserves.’’


Ms Hackett welcomed the advisory group, and called on both horse riders and conservationists to work together. 

Riders fight for access to Panton Hill bush

15 Feb 11 @ 04:30pm by Raelene Wilson


Horse riders at Bunjil Reserve are worried about a council plan to cut the number of trails from nine to two. Ness Stables and Lars Hegmann are pictured riding through the bush reserve.



HORSE riders are mustering to fight a Nillumbik Council bid to lock them out of bushland reserves.


The council’s draft management plan for seven reserves at Panton Hill, Smiths Gully and Watsons Creek allows horse riders access to just four of nine trails.


The public, including horse riders, bushwalkers and mountain bike riders, have had unlimited access to all nine trails since the council took them over in 2000.


 But the draft plan report says unregulated access has contributed to soil disturbance, compaction, erosion, habitat degradation, weed invasion and the loss of significant animal species.


Nillumbik Horse Action Group’s Cathy Giles said horse riders were being unfairly punished.


“There are no weeds along the trails,” Ms Giles said. “They have mainly come off water courses and crept in from the edges of the reserves. We have asked the council for evidence that horses have introduced weeds and they haven’t been able to provide it.”


She said horse riders wanted to continue using five of the trails and to work with the council to maintain them. 


But Friends of Panton Hill Bushland Reserves System’s Peter Semple said horse riders should be banned from the reserves to protect rare and threatened species, including the valley cranesbill and showy violet orchids.


“Horse riders continue to deny that horses spread weeds and cause erosion,” Mr Semple said. 


“Their environmental destruction, including weed dispersal and erosion, is scientifically documented.”


Mayor Helen Coleman said trails where a ban was proposed would be replaced by nearby alternative trails.


Public comment on the draft plan the closes on February 25 and will be considered by council in April.


Nillumbik Horse Action Group will hold a Save the Trails rally at 5.30pm next Tuesday, February 22 outside the council offices at Civic Drive, Greensborough. 

Chafing at the debate over Panton Hill reserves

8 Jun 11 @ 07:00am by Raelene Wilson


NILLUMBIK residents pitched their cases for and against horse riding in the Panton Hill Bushland Reserves last Wednesday.


Councillors heard from 40 residents, including horse riders, conservationists, scientists and children, on a draft management plan for the reserves at a meeting at Apollo Parkways Primary School in Greensborough. 


The DV Leader covered last week’s debate on the future on the Panton Hill Bushland Reserve System, live on Twitter.


Public submissions were overwhelmingly in favour of keeping five of nine trails open to riders, a move Nillumbik Horse Action Group spokeswoman Cathy Giles said was a reasonable compromise.


Young horse rider Lucy, 9, called on councillors to keep trails open to provide a safe place for children to ride away from roads, while student Jessica Riley described her near miss with a car near Smiths Gully.


But former mayor Greg Johnson said the environment had lost its voice in the debate, which has focused heavily on horse trails.


“The debate has been skewed by their alleged use right instead of the habitat value of the reserves,” Mr Johnson said.


Hurstbridge resident Chris Andrews presented a photo slideshow of erosion and weeds in the reserves, including black nightshade and common horsetail, which he said had been introduced by horses. Mayor Helen Coleman said a lack of repetition in the submissions showed the complexity of the issue. 


Councillors will decide on the draft plan on June 28 at a meeting at Kangaroo Ground Emergency Centre.


Riders win access to Panton Hill bushland


3 Nov 11 @ 12:04pm by Shaun Campbell


Horse riders have been campaigning since last year. 


A CONTENTIOUS creek crossing leading to environmentally significant bushland at Panton Hill will remain open to horse riders.


Nillumbik Council last week agreed to keep a path through Long Gully Creek open despite fears the crossing was unsafe.


Mayor Helen Coleman said the decision, which opened access to Bunjil Reserve’s northern spur trail, was based on legal advice and information from Parks Victoria.


She said signs warning trail users of the crossing’s hidden dangers, such as flooding, would be erected in the reserve and on Long Gully Rd.


Nillumbik Horse Action Group chairwoman Cathy Giles said the move, which gives horse riders access to five trails in the Panton Hill bushland system - something they have campaigned for since last year - was great news for the community. “It is an outstanding result for those who value the reserves, not only for environmental reasons, but the recreational aspects of being able to ride and enjoy them,” she said.


But Friends of the Panton Hill Bushlands Reserve System chairman Peter Semple said opening the crossing would spell disaster for the shire’s most precious recreation reserve.


“Since the council’s recreational trail goes along Long Gully Rd this will encourage people from across Melbourne to ride through the reserve,” Mr Semple said.


Ms Giles said she had put her hand up to join a committee to help maintain the 140ha Panton Hill bushland reserve system, which includes seven reserves in Panton Hill, Smiths Gully and Watsons Creek.


Mr Semple said a member of his group had also expressed interest. 


Nominations will be reported to the council later this month. 

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