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The Central Otago District Council (CODC) will be asking for community input into the enhancement of the Half Mile reserve near Alexandra.

Residents are invited to a drop-in session on Monday, November 22, at the Alexandra Community Centre, Skird St, Alexandra, from 4pm to 6pm.

People will be able to look at the council’s proposed landscape plan and discuss the recreational opportunities for the council-owned reserve.

The CODC’s decision to proceed with a control operation in the Half Mile and Lower Manorburn Dam reserves is in line with the New Zealand wilding conifer management strategy and the Otago Regional Council’s progressive containment programmes within the Otago pest management plan for wilding conifers.

Both reserves were prioritised as problem areas by the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Group, which was established in 2013 in response to public concern about the spread of wilding conifers in the district and their impact on the environment.

The group works with both central and local government in wilding conifer management.

CODC planning and environment acting executive manager Lee Webster said, as a landowner, the council had a responsibility to eradicate wilding conifers from these sites.

“We understand there is concern in the community about council’s proposal to remove wilding conifers from the Half Mile.”

The pines were classified as a pest and were a seed source that contributed to wilding conifers establishing on productive farmland and in “our outstanding landscapes”, he said.

“We have learned that some of the community value these trees for amenity purposes, for recreation and for shelter.

“We get that. We also know there is a large number of people in the community passionate about the removal of wilding conifers they have been telling us to do something about it for years.”

The council now had the opportunity, with the assistance of external funding, to deal with the problem, he said.

Budget 2020 included $100million for wilding conifer control.

In Otago, $1.04million has been allocated for nearly 77,000ha of wilding control throughout Alexandra, Dunstan, Lammermoor, Northern Eyre, Rough Ridge and the Ida and Saint Mary’s Ranges.

The council allocated $50,000 a year in its 2021-31 long-term plan for the next three years to contribute to the control of wilding conifers on its own land.

Mr Webster stressed the council cared about what happened at Half Mile, which is classified as recreation reserve.