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Belmont Logging Beginning in November

NEWS RELEASE

26 October 2012

Belmont Logging Beginning in November

Contractors for the Greater Wellington Regional Council will soon begin logging a 24-hectare radiata pine plantation in Belmont Regional Park, if weather conditions and logging prices are favourable.

The 30-year-old pines are located at the head of the Korokoro Valley, at Belmont Regional Park's Stratton Street entrance, and will be logged from November 2012 to May 2013.

Regional Council Western Principal Ranger, Wayne Boness, says that every effort has been made to minimise the impact of the logging operation.

"We'll keep as many tracks open around the site as is safe to do so, but there will be times when a track needs to be closed, so we'll be keeping users informed with signage and through our website. At this stage the only tracks that will be closed for the entire operation are mountain biking tracks that run through or into the logging site, so we've been working with BAMBA [Belmont Area Mountain Biking Association] to provide alternative tracks."

Wayne says that access to the site is limited so logging trucks will have to use Maungaraki's main roads and Normandale's Stratton Street. Transportation times will be restricted to reduce the impact on commuters, school-related traffic and pedestrians.

Environmental protection measures have been put in place for the operation, including silt traps to prevent sediment reaching Korokoro Stream.

Options for site reinstatement were the subject of a public drop-in meeting in October 2011, and the Regional Council asked for public feedback on this issue from September to December last year. Councillors will use this feedback to inform a decision on reinstatement later this year. They will also decide how any profit from the operation will be reinvested.



The Regional Council had planned to start the project a year ago but a combination of factors including weather, contractor availability and the importance of giving the community confidence that any concerns about the operation were addressed, made a late 2012 start date the best option.

Q&As

WHY IS THE REGIONAL COUNCIL CARRYING OUT THIS LOGGING OPERATION?
The 24-hectare stand of radiata pines was planted in the early 1980s as plantation forest, with the intention of felling the pines once they reached maturity.
Leaving the pines isn't an option as once pines are mature, they become unmanageable and there's a risk of "wind-throw", (that's when mature pines are blown over). This would create a hazard for park users.

WHAT'S THE TIMELINE?
The operation will begin on - or close - to 1 November and is likely to finish by May 2013.
Initially, trees will be removed from areas where roads and skid sites will be built, using ground-based machinery. This is expected to generate an average of three truck or trailer loads of logs per day leaving the site, and should take about three months to complete.
Construction of roads will also take place during this timeframe, requiring about 86 truck and trailer loads of gravel to be trucked into the site.
Once the roads and skid sites have been constructed, clearfelling of the whole block will begin using cable harvesting machinery. This should generate an average of around five truck and trailer loads of logs a day, taking about four months to complete.

WHAT ARE THE HOURS OF THE OPERATION?
Logging and road construction will take place between 7am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday.

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE TRUCKS THAT WILL BE COMING TO AND FROM THE SITE?
The logging contractors will be operating under a traffic management plan approved by Hutt City Council. There will be signage.
The logging trucks will turn off SH2 and drive along Dowse Drive, Miromiro Road and Stratton Street. Truck movements will only take place between 7am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

WHAT ABOUT THE WALKING TRACKS DURING THE BUSY SUMMER PERIOD?
The best time to do the logging operation is over summer as the work requires dry conditions.
The work will require different walking tracks to be closed at various stages of the operation. We'll update the status of tracks on our website and with signage around the logging the site.

WILL THE OPERATION AFFECT THE OLD COACH ROAD?
We won't be removing logs through the Old Coach Road. However, the road will be closed to walkers during some phases of the operation.

WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE MOUNTAIN BIKING TRACKS IN AND AROUND THE PINE STAND?
The following tracks either run through the logging site or lead directly to it, and will be destroyed as part of the operation:
* Danzig mountain biking track
* Bridle Trail
* Pylon Track
* Middle Ridge Valley Track
Information on alternative mountain biking tracks can be found by visiting www.gw.govt.nz/belmont.

We are currently working with the Belmont Area Mountain Biking Association (BAMBA) on a planned approach toward mountain bike track development, once the logging has finished.

WILL THE KOROKORO STREAM BE AFFECTED? AND WHAT ABOUT NATIVE BUSH REMNANTS IN THE BLOCK?
Part of the Korokoro Stream runs along the bottom of the logging site, so we will use silt traps and other methods to stop sediment getting into the stream. One of the conditions of the logging contract is to avoid native bush blocks.

We've consulted with the Friends of Belmont Regional Park, the Korokoro Environmental Group and other interested parties on aspects of this operation, including environmental effects.

WILL THE OPERATION AFFECT THE WOOLSHED CLASSROOM AT THE END OF STRATTON STREET?
The Woolshed Classroom will be closed during the day while the Stratton Street entrance to Belmont Regional Park is used as a staging site for the logging operation. However, people will be able to use the classroom in the evenings.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE SITE ONCE THE LOGGING IS OVER?
Options for site reinstatement were the subject of a public drop-in meeting in October 2011, and the Regional Council asked for public feedback on this issue from September to December 2011. Councillors will use this feedback to inform a decision on reinstatement early in 2013. They will also decide how any profit from the operation will be reinvested.


ends


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