A band of conifer trees on either side of the Skyline gondola above downtown Queenstown will soon be cleared to avoid creating a health and safety threat to the aerial cableway.
Survey work and inspections are already underway, with machinery work expected to begin the week commencing Monday, November 6, 2017. This first phase of work is to re-establish an existing road to the harvesting area and is due to be completed by Christmas.
From late January 2018, tree extractions will commence between the hours of 5.30am-10am, seven days a week, weather permitting. However, there shall be no chainsaw, mechanically assisted log removal, heavy vehicle movements or earthworks activities undertaken on Sundays. There will also be no works undertaken on public holidays, including the Christmas and New Year period (December 24-January 2, as a minimum).
Skyline Queenstown will remain operational throughout the project, however will have a slightly delayed opening time during summer and autumn to facilitate the work.
The trees will be felled to ensure the safety of people accessing the gondola and tourism businesses that are located on Ben Lomond Recreation Reserve, which is administered by the Queenstown Lakes District Council on behalf of the Crown.
Skyline Queenstown General Manager Wayne Rose says Skyline has devised a proactive plan for managing the risk to public safety, as well as the safety of forestry crews.
“These wilding trees grow about one metre each year and as they get bigger, they become more susceptible to the wind and the risk of them falling increases,” he says. “It is therefore essential that we manage this situation proactively, in conjunction with QLDC, with as minimal disruption as possible to the operations at Skyline Queenstown, as well as local residents and neighbouring businesses.”
The forestry work – to be undertaken by Andrew Haulage – is not expected to impact residents, apart from occasional truck movements on Lomond Crescent. There will be no impact on traffic or parking at the Skyline Queenstown base terminal.
There may be some minimal disruption to the mountain biking and walking trails with a marshal used to indicate vehicle movements to mountain bikers and hikers. Clear signage about the works will also be erected.
Harvesting the identified trees is a permitted activity under the Operative District Plan as the area is designated as a forest. Where possible, the felled timber will either be exported or milled for the domestic market.