DETAILED design to extend and improve the Forrest Mountain Bike Trails is being developed in the hope that the project will be viewed as “shovel ready” in time for state and federal funding opportunities.
Colac Otway Shire development and community services general manager Ian Seuren said council had chosen dirt art to begin the detailed designs for the development of the trail network.
“The development of new trails, upgrades to existing trails, critical road safety infrastructure with township connections and a trail head precinct will secure Forrest as a key mountain bike and tourist destination in the Great Ocean Road region and Victoria,” he said.
“The initial stage of design and quantity surveying to more accurately confirm costs to progress the implementation phase has been funded through a Federal Government Grant $100,000, with matching Council funds and $20,000 in-kind support.
“The project budget will also cover other important considerations such as cultural heritage and vegetation assessments.”
Mr Seuren said the trail network currently attracts 25,000 visitors each year, with its tourism benefits generating significant economic returns for Forrest and its surrounding areas.
In 2015, council collaborated with key agencies, local groups and the Forrest community to develop the Forrest Mountain Bike Trails Strategic Plan which revealed an estimated implementation cost of $1.05 million.
“An increase in the number and variety of trails is critical to ensuring that the Forrest is available to a broader section of users, return visitation and event attraction; which will maintain Forrest as a key mountain biking destination and continue to provide a significant economic benefit to the former logging town’s economy and the shire,” councillor Seuren said.
Mr Seuren said in an economic analysis completed by council last year, it was projected visitor numbers would double, more accommodation would be needed, 32 new jobs would be created in the Otways hinterland and an extra $8.4 million would be generated through the Strategic Plan’s implementation.