Image for STATE: Blue Derby, nature tourism revival that could be lost to logging. ERIC and Libs’ ticket ...

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Andrew Nikolic

The once sleepy town of Derby is awakening off the back of the $3.1 million Blue Derby Mountain Bike trails. After years of economic depression, Derby is once again a hive of activity.

Shops are re-opening, café’s are humming and the streets are rolling with mountain bikers, trail-running competitors and adventurers. Jeopardizing this is clear-fell logging, that threatens nature-based tourism and community interests in the region.

In an embarrassing oversight in negotiating the development of these trails, Dorset Council failed to ensure plans to clearfell forests around the trails were taken off the table. Ensuring Tasmania’s notorious clearfell logging practices would not undermine the projected success of these trails.

The Dorset Council’s gaps in managing the roll out of the Blue Derby trails are becoming more obvious as time progresses. Not just in its public relations efforts with Mayor Greg Howard describing to the Examiner Newspaper on Feb 29 that those advocating logging not take place as: “… just that fringe group sooking about everything the way they normally do.”

To date these management troubles include an initial failure to fully secure the trade name for Blue Derby and corresponding domain names (and a failed legal action against those who had bought related domain names in 2015); failing to ensure the MTB trails were not built near proposed logging coupes; poor community engagement; failure to have publicly available information on any risk assessments undertaken regarding impacts of logging on the brand of Blue Derby, the physical trails – not to mention rider safety.

To date council minutes in which risk assessment for the trails is mentioned, is noted with a simple N/A. Presumably the risk assessment has been done, but the public do not have access to it.

Formal Requests to Information (R.T.I.) by media, tourism operators and MP’s to obtain information from council on projected income to the community from the Blue Derby trails has been refused. Reasons given include ongoing tensions between the Dorset General Manager and a MTB tourism operator who council undertook a failed legal action against last year, due to domain name issues.

Dorset Council has a propensity for taking a hardline approach to those who use the name if not approved by their marketing machine. Three weeks ago a group of residents and tourism operators advocating the valleys around the Blue Derby trails remain free of logging, created the online presence Blue Derby Wild. Council issued a legal threat claiming ‘Infringement of Trademark.’

Despite other names in existence for businesses making money off the Blue Derby name such as http://www.ridebluederby.info/

It is expected that the BlueDerbyWild. Facebook page and webpage will be forcibly taken down by Dorset council in coming weeks.

Whether other community groups or businesses using the words Blue and Derby can expect the same treatment will be an interesting test.

Currently Blue Derby is being celebrated globally for its flow and natural setting. Logging the second of these assets threatens the first and the whole enterprise.

Forestry Tasmania is being very loose with information on what buffers will be between the trials and the first coupe CC104B, in the Mutual Valley. Telling some tourism operators a 60 meter buffer will be in place, telling ABC there will probably be a 30 meter buffer, while their forest practices plan (available on line) clearly states a 10 -20 meter buffer is planned.

Many letters have been sent and meetings requested with Forestry Tasmania asking that the FPP be changed to reflect what the actual buffer will be, and logging stopped until an accurate FPP is made public. As recently as this week Forestry Tasmania have stated no new FPP will be produced as the current one is accurate, and will guide the clearfell logging of this area.

Buffer zones are a dangerous distraction. Small narrow stands of trees between a clearfell and track/road are highly susceptible to damage in high wind and storm events. The Tahune airwalk and other tourism attractions have learnt this the hard way.

In the coming week Forestry Tasmania plans to begin clear-fell logging Mutual Valley CC104B, which abuts the Blue Derby, Krushka’s trail.  It is the first of six logging coupes planned around the Blue Derby trails and the town of Derby, all viewable on the Forestry Tasmania website.

These trails have been given substantial financial support from the federal, and Dorset council purse. Federal member for Bass, Andrew Nikolic, patron for cycling in Tasmania, has frequently touted the $2.45 million federal support for the Blue Derby MTB trails in his electorate. While at the same time forcefully advocating in the media that the logging around these valleys continue.

In a federal election year where the seat of Bass is not secure Mr Nikolic has staked his pro-clearfelling colours to the mast. Will he be able to placate the voters of Bass who see the opportunity in a diversified economy, and do not want the region’s best nature-based tourism project logged?

Andrew Nikolic can wield a whip, but can he move with the times? As the federal member for Bass he could take the local council in hand and steer the region in a direction that capitalizes on its assets, and best economic interests. Or he can carry on with the old ways of Bass and Derby will again fall into its boom/bust cycle.

*Pearl Norton is known to the Editor

• John Hawkins in Comments: Dear Editor, The Sunday Mercury has posted an Article on Abetz as the No 1 on the Hard Right Liberal ticket: HERE. This has caused my beloved Scruffy who has a long standing advertisement on your site (see right) to bare her teeth for battle. I have been asked by her to release her two campaign slogans for the pending election as determined by consultation with Mr Archie and Mr Cockerel. They are: “If you are going to vote for a dog vote for a real one”. And, “Anyone but Erich”. Scruffy thinks this should result in her immediate pre selection by the Thinking Left of the Liberal Party.

• Anne in Comments: As we near the May deadline - the date KordaMentha claimed the whole Gunns adminstrative fiasco would be wound up - it looks like there could be a rather large debt in council rates still outstanding. Oh dear.

• John Hawkins in Comments: Scruffy put up a similar comment to the above on the Mercury website it was published, lasted some two hours had three likes and was for some unknown reason then taken down. Scruffy then put up “Anyone but Erich” only. This seems to be lasting the distance. Paul at #11 you have hit the nail on the head. A concise and accurate summation. Well Done. “Anyone but Erich” has that simple ring of truth needed in a campaign slogan. Scruffy offers free use of her two slogans in seemingly a very good cause. She particularly likes: “If you are going to vote for a dog Vote for a real one”

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