FROM THE MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION
DATE: Friday, July 13, 2001
NO PLANS TO CLOSE SABINE FALLS
The Minister for Environment and Conservation, Ms Sherryl Garbutt, has flatly rejected suggestions the Department of Natural Resources and Environment is preparing Sabine Falls for logging by closing the attraction's car park and picnic area.
Ms Garbutt said Sabine Falls was protected in a reserve that would never be logged, and that as long as the Bracks Government was in power, people would have access to the area.
"The Government has absolutely no intention of closing this area to the public," Ms Garbutt said.
Earlier this year, a company producing maps of the area approached NRE, asking it for an assessment of the content of its map of the Otways.
In response, an NRE officer recommended the picnic area at Sabine Falls not be included in the maps, on the grounds of public safety.
"NRE came to the view some years ago that the facilities at Sabine Falls reserve were not in a suitable condition for public use. As a result, an NRE officer recommended that the Sabine Falls car park and picnic area not be included in new maps," Ms Garbutt said.
"The track from the car park to the viewing platform covers some difficult terrain and parts of the track traverses private property. It is steep and slippery and not in a fit state to promote to the general public.
"As a consequence, the Department has not actively encouraged public use of this area. However, there are no plans to close the car park and picnic areas or deny public access to the Sabine Falls Reserve or to log the Reserve," Ms Garbutt said.
Ms Garbutt said that the issue of logging near the Sabine Falls reserve had been referred to the Otways Region Forest Reference Group, a forum created by the Bracks Government to provide recommendations from local communities on the future usage of forest areas.
"The Otways forest reference group is presently examining logging plans outside of the Sabine Falls Reserve and is yet to make any recommendations on future forestry operations in the area," Ms Garbutt said.
Ms Garbutt, who announced a moratorium on logging outside the Sabine Falls Reserve earlier in the year, was optimistic the reference group would provide her with some workable suggestions.
"I anticipate that the reference group will provide some viable recommendations regarding future logging arrangements across the broader area."
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