BEAM life member Phil Bourne wrote this letter on behalf of the group in support of the proposed ‘Wandong to Heathcote Rail Trail’.
Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail have a website that can fill you in on the details of the current O’Keefe Rail Trail and extension project.
RE: PROPOSED WANDONG TO HEATHCOTE RAIL TRAIL
I am writing on behalf of BEAM Mitchell Environment Group in support of the proposed ‘Wandong to Heathcote Rail Trail’ in the hope that Mitchell Shire Council will commit to the trail becoming a reality. BEAM Mitchell Environment Group has been active in the Mitchell Shire for over 23 years, and our aim is to protect and care for the natural environment for a sustainable future.
Bike riding and walking are low cost healthy activities that most people can participate in, with minimal adverse effect on the environment. BEAM supports activities that promote people engaging with our local environment and becoming more familiar with it. Walking or cycling on trails, without fear or noise of car traffic, is a great means of observing and appreciating our environment. BEAM also supports local tourism opportunities that have low impact on environmental assets, while enhancing people’s awareness of the physical world. Having periodic signage that highlights some of the assets and challenges would further boost this awareness. The more we understand and appreciate our environment, the more inclined we are to act upon any challenges that emerge.
Establishment of the Rail Trail is supported by a number of Mitchell Shire Council’s strategy documents, including the current Environment Strategy which emphasises the importance of building awareness of the natural environment. More specifically this Strategy supports activities which:
“Raise community awareness of the significance and value of roadside vegetation.
Continue to distribute information on biodiversity, native vegetation, weeds and sustainability…
Promote Mitchell’s Biodiversity Values…
Educate the rural and urban community on the impact of environmental weeds….
Promote roadside and reserve conservation programs…”
The Health and Wellbeing Plan 2009 –2013, states under Goal 3 that Mitchell Shire will “encourage participation and development of….incidental physical activity…(and) Continue to develop footpaths, walking trails and tracks within the Shire.” The Mitchell Shire Council Tourism Strategy 2010-2015 also states under STRATEGY 6 – Infrastructure Development, that it will “Actively support and encourage the development of new tourism infrastructure and the improvement of existing infrastructure (and will) support and assist funding for new tourism developments.”
Rail trails are on public land and are a great asset to the wellbeing of our residents and our flora and fauna. Developing this trail will create an ongoing asset that will enhance the amenity of the Shire and develop links with our neighbouring shires. Coupled with the excellent Goulburn River High Country Rail trail, it will potentially make Mitchell Shire the primary choice for cyclists and walkers from Melbourne and beyond, to explore and appreciate our local environment. Please support this endeavour.
BEAM- Mitchell Environment Group