Galloping along new bush trails

HAPPY TRAILS: Workshops in Alstonville identify trails in National Parks that could be upgraded for recreational horse riders.
HAPPY TRAILS: Workshops in Alstonville identify trails in National Parks that could be upgraded for recreational horse riders.

NORTHERN Rivers recreational horse riders are getting improved access to National Parks as part of a statewide push by the State Government.

About 30 representatives from groups including pony clubs, endurance riders and riding for the disabled attended a workshop in Alstonville yesterday to identify trails and areas that could be opened up, upgraded or improved for horse riders.

Richmond River Trail Horse Riders Club secretary Judy Horne said she was excited about the possibility of extending and linking up trails to create long, enjoy- able loops.

She said she would also like to see facilities improved for horse riders.

For example the closed camping area at Rummery Park could be re-opened to accommodate groups of riders bush camping during weekend excursions.

National Parks and Wildlife Service regional operations co-ordinator John Fisher said environmental and safety considerations would still apply when considering which trails to open.

The Northern Rivers already has 230km of paths usable by horse riders spread among 10 national parks.

The State Government has allocated $150,000 for projects to improve horse riding opportunities statewide.

Some new trails might be opened up as early as March.

Ideas from yesterday's workshop will go towards a plan for new trails to be rolled out over the next two to three years.

Dailan Pugh, of the North East Forest Alliance, said he was concerned about an "open slather" approach to horse riding.

Mr Pugh said while horse riding was a legitimate use of national parks it did have impacts - including physical damage, fouled water and potentially spreading weeds - which needed to be carefully managed and restricted.

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