The impending removal of Sugar Pine Walk in Bago State Forest, at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, has not only rattled scores of photos out of archives, but generated interest from scores of people hoping to get one last peek at the iconic woodland walk.
Their actions have prompted the Forestry Corporation of NSW to issue a warning reminding forest visitors to avoid the tourist attraction for their own safety following extensive damage to it during the past summer’s bushfires.
The popular site near Laurel Hill, between Tumut and Tumbarumba, was heavily burnt and is now closed to the public due to the risk of falling trees.
Forestry Corporation silvicultural manager, Snowy Region, Roger Davies said the Sugar Pine Walk could not be saved.
“Pine trees are particularly susceptible to fire and the intensity of the bushfires has destroyed this iconic walk,” he said. “The site is incredibly dangerous due to the burnt standing timber. We have no option but to remove the trees.”
Forestry Corporation will be working with mills and local contractors to salvage bushfire-affected wood, with work starting this month.
Sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) is native to the US west coast and is the largest and tallest of all pine species.
The trees were planted on the site in 1928 as a range of different exotic species were being trialled by the forestry industry.
The site is sentimental to both Forestry Corporation staff and the wider community due to its history and the pine trees’ size and stature.
The close planting and the way the trees have grown over time created a unique cathedral-like experience for visitors walking under the canopy.
Forestry Corporation staff are exploring how to mark the passing of the forest and commemorate the loss.
A photographer has been commissioned to capture Sugar Pine Walk as it stands and will share these images with the community.
“We are looking at other ways we can preserve the memory of Sugar Pine Walk and share with the community to celebrate 100 years of plantation forestry in the local region,” said Mr Davies.
“Planning is underway for a replacement Sugar Pine Walk, with seed and seedlings in the current site being collected for propagation and replanting for future generations.”
Ironically, Forestry Corporation of NSW had begun preparations for another Sugar Pine Walk nearby, in September 2019, with a five-hectare replacement site selected, cleared and ready to establish a new stand of trees as the existing forest aged.
That site was also destroyed in the recent bushfires.