Fears Beaufort timber mill will fall under park rules

Forest user groups plan to protest in Beaufort's main street on Sunday.
Forest user groups plan to protest in Beaufort's main street on Sunday.

TIMBER worker Ian Cricks fears his Beaufort business will take a massive chop should surrounding state forest be made into a national park.

Victorian Environment Assessment Council is undertaking a two-year review process into the conservation and management of state forests including the region’s Wombat, Mount Cole and Pyrenees Ranges forests.

An initial draft proposals paper, including public submissions made last year, is due for release this month.

Mr Cole, who owns Pyrenees Timber sawmill, says about half his hardwood timber supply comes from land near Mount Cole, Mount Lonarch and the Pyrenees Rangers. He fears putting such areas under park protection would make business inviable.

“There are increased costs getting logs up from the east of the state,” Mr Cricks said.

“People want to buy local hardwood timber...a lot of local farmers use our hardwood.”

Ditchy's view

Ditchy's view

Mr Cricks said use of grey hardwood was popular in heritage and historic sites, like upkeep in old cottages and maintaining Sovereign Hill.

He is also member of Friends of Mount Cole, a community users group for the area which he said was concerned about restrictions under park status for recreational users including four wheel drivers, prospectors, foresters, shooters and mountain bikers.

A second submission period for VEAC is set to open in coming months with a final report due in March with recommendations for balanced and appropriate land use to be submitted to the state government.

Forest user groups are planning a protest rally in Beaufort’s main street on Sunday morning.