AN extensive eight-year long logging project in the Bathurst electorate will be able to commence thanks to $1.95 million in joint funding.
Forestry Corporation of NSW plan to harvest around 700,000 tonnes of pine timber from the Pennsylvania State Forest, around 66 kilometres south-west of Bathurst.
But, to allow the huge project to commence, Colo Road, which is the only suitable access road, requires an extensive upgrade.
Monday’s $1.95m funding announcement is made up of $1.75m from the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Roads program and $200,000 from Bathurst Regional Council.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said forestry generates billions of dollars for the NSW economy each year and the project would improve safety for all road users.
“Planned work on the Colo Road Forestry initiative addresses the fact there is currently poor heavy vehicle access due to the condition of the pavement, road width, gradient and alignment of some corners,” he said.
“Colo Road itself if too narrow and we know that with harvesting operations about to begin later this year the road itself needs to be widened.
We know that it employs thousands of people, it is a large contributor to our local economy so the upgrade to this road is important to the industry, but also has a wider impact back in the local area.Member for Bathurst Paul Toole
“There needs to be safety upgrades taken, we know that there are overhanging branches that need to be cleaned up.
“It’s about making it safer, not only for these large b-double trucks, but also for the local residents in that particular area.”
Five hectares of roadside will also be cleared during the Colo Road upgrade.
Mr Toole said forestry was a large employer and economic contributor to the Central West economy.
“We know that it employs thousands of people, it is a large contributor to our local economy so the upgrade to this road is important to the industry, but also has a wider impact back in the local area,” he said.
Mr Toole said pine trees in the Pennsylvania State Forest had been growing for at least 25 years and they were ready to be harvested.
Bathurst Regional Council acting mayor Bobby Bourke said the road upgrade was vital and had been “a long time coming”.
“Any workforce is valuable to any community and the forestry is one of the major ones,” he said. “Forestry is big and they put a lot of money, just not into our region but the whole of Australia.”
Timber from the Pennsylvania State Forest will then go to Bathurst, Oberon and Tumut for processing.