On your bike Sunshine Coast!

Sunshine Coast National Parks will be better protected under a plan to end illegal motorbike riding and create a new facility for recreational riders in Mooloolah Logging Area.

Minister for National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing Steve Dickson said the need for a facility in the region was identified as part of a Queensland Government commitment to ensure the proper management of protected areas.

“Illegal riding in the National Park has been happening for years, but the former Labor government refused to act,” Mr Dickson said.

“Market research in 2009 indicated that 76% of survey respondents from Brisbane’s northern suburbs and 70% of those from Sunshine Coast ride at illegal sites.

“It has resulted in serious accidents and deaths, as well as posing a long-term risk to the environment, and taking rangers away from conservation duties.

“We have spent some time consulting about a safe space for these people to enjoy riding, without risking themselves or harming the environment.

“The feedback we have received shows that the development of well-managed, family-oriented, environmentally sustainable and purpose-built tracks and trails will take riders out of national parks.

“The area already has a number of logging trails, which can be easily converted for different types of off-road motorcycling, meaning there will be little impact on the surrounds.

“It’s also close to both Steve Irwin Way and the Bruce Highway, so it’s easily accesible.

Mr Dickson said the Government would consult with the community on aspects of the proposed development during May 2014.

“The Queensland Moto Park that opened at Wyaralong in 2011 has been a huge hit and the government is now hoping to replicate this success on the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

“We expect this will also bring visitors to the area, boosting the local economy and growing the tourism industry as we promised to at the election.”

Australia Zoo owner Terri Irwin said she was excited about the initiative for an outdoor recreational facility.

“This is exactly what our community needs and will give riders and their families the opportunity to have an area designated for their sport,” Ms Irwin said.

“Now more than ever we need infrastructure to encourage our kids to get outdoors and have fun!"

General Manager of Motorcycling Queensland Lindsay Granger applauded the move.

“I welcome any initiative which will address the issue of illegal riding and land degradation and provide opportunities for riders of all ages to participate safely in motorcycling sport and recreation and to access facilities close to where they live,” Mr Granger said.

Sunshine Coast Junior Motorcycling club President Cassidy Holland said he was excited to see the facility progress, and hoped to be involved.

“It’s rare to find a venue that can offer somewhere to ride regularly that is legal and safe, and any opportunity that presents itself where a venue can be opened locally is a fantastic thing to offer our riding community,” Mr Holland said.

Local tourism operator Alex Watson of Noosa North Shore Equathon horse tours said it was important people enjoyed recreation responsibly.

“Anything that provides a dedicated area for this recreational activity is a positive for everyone, and will assist with good management of recreational areas for all user groups,” he said.

Full details about the EOI, including documentation and application information can be obtained from the Queensland Government QTenders website at

https://secure.publicworks.qld.gov.au/etender/home.do

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