Forests NSW and the Armidale Pine Forest Committee are on track to close the Armidale State Forest to vehicles from August 1.
The vehicle closure was announced in March and since then five new pedestrian access gates and a large parking area at the main entrance off the eastern side of Rockvale Road have been under construction.
“When the work is complete the new access gates will be closed to all unauthorised vehicles, and that is expected by the end of this month,” said Forests NSW senior forester at Walcha, Brad Godson.
“The restriction on motor vehicle access is largely in response to a disturbing increase in vandalism, inappropriate motor vehicle use, illegal parties, rubbish dumping and damage to the creek banks.
“Recently there was a serious incident when a kangaroo was shot from within the pine forest over the fence in a neighbour’s property.
“The forest will be effectively closed to motor vehicles once the gates have been erected, and unauthorised use of any motor vehicle will result in prosecution under the Forestry Act.”
Mr Godson said penalty infringement notices may be issued by NSW Police or a Forests NSW officer, and may range up to $2200.
Signs outlining conditions of use will be erected.
“The area is excluded from hunting, and anyone caught hunting in Armidale State Forest will be prosecuted by NSW Police, and issued a penalty infringement notice by Forests NSW,” Mr Godson said.
“Members of the public who require motor vehicle access to the forest can apply and obtain a key though Armidale Dumaresq Council by making a $50 deposit and recording licence details.”
Special Purpose Permits for other activities and events can be obtained by contacting Forests New South Wales Grafton office on 026640 1660 or by visiting www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/forests/recreation/activities/i-want-to-go-hold-an-organised-event and following the links.
“Forests NSW, the Armidale Pine Forest Committee and Armidale Dumaresq Council are committed to working together to build the infrastructure and systems required to make a range of activities such as picnics, walking and cycling increasingly available to the members of the public,” Mr Godson said.