The Shire of Augusta Margaret River has issued a stern warning to builders of illegal mountain bike trail after the discovery of one such trail in Barrett Street Reserve.
Shire Chief Executive Officer Gary Evershed issued the warning, saying the Shire would seek to prosecute any “environmental vandals” identified.
Mr Evershed said rogue trail builders were causing environmental and liability issues, with ratepayers left to foot the clean up and removal bills.
He said the Shire was working in collaboration with the Friends of Barrett Street Reserve (FoBSR) and Margaret River Off Road Cycling Association (MRORCA) to address the matter.
“We are all similarly frustrated by this reckless and ad hoc destruction of public land that we all work so tirelessly to protect, maintain and rehabilitate,” he said.
“It is entirely unhelpful and short-sighted for these few individuals to build trails in inappropriate locations, with no regard given to other user groups, or the environment.”
MRORCA President Dean Davies encouraged riders to use the region’s extensive trail network.
“The club supports legal and formal trails only,” he said.
“I urge mountain bikers to use the existing trails in Compartment 10.”
Shire President Pam Townshend said Council were supporters of the sport but growth needed to be considerate and sustainable.
“Council has been a long-time supporter as demonstrated by our funding commitments to the Cape to Cape MTB, the State MTB series, local club events, trail building and the new 12-hour mountain biking event slated for 2018,” she said.
“It’s a fantastic inter-generational sport that promotes social engagement, health and wellbeing.
“Unfortunately the clearing of this trail has damaged native bushland in the reserve area. Unauthorised trails also create the potential for serious collisions between riders and walkers.”
FoBSR member Maureen Munro said Shire Reserves were a dwindling resource as population grew.
“Reserves provide habitat for animals and plants, and quiet relaxing spaces for us to enjoy,” she said.
“Illegal trails have a devastating impact on the bush with long term consequences and safety issues for other users.”
Additional trails are planned near Wharncliffe Mill, and a Trail Strategy will be drafted by the Shire in close consultation with the community.
Members of the public are encouraged to report illegal trails to the Shire on 9780 5255.
All illegal trails will be removed at the earliest opportunity.