The trees at Half Mile recreation reserve were once again discussed at the Central Otago District Council (CODC) meeting last week despite being felled months ago.

Bridge Hill resident Ken Churchill once again addressed the council, this time armed with a piece of slash left from the tree felling. He also had a list of tasks not completed by the logging contractor despite being part of the job description.

After the meeting CODC Parks and Recreation Manager Gordon Bailey said those issues were being taken care of now and would resolve themselves over time during the redevelopment of the reserve.

“Now that the ground is dry enough, we’re going to begin cleaning up the reserve initially with the help of the community. Having received numerous requests from members of the public about gaining access to the reserve, we have extended an invitation to people to come and collect free firewood, under Health and Safety guidelines which we have laid down. We’ve had a positive response to this offer, and we’re pleased that the community will have an immediate, direct benefit from the felling operation.’’

The reserve’s redevelopment would begin next winter, with the memorandum of understanding between Council and the Haehaeata Trust swinging into action when the planting starts.

“We are looking forward to reaching this stage of the project and going on restoration journey with the

Mr Churchill mentioned 46 pines still on the reserve that could pose a danger to a neighbouring property if they fell.

The Council thanked Mr Churchill for bringing this safety aspect to their attention regarding the remaining conifers within an adjacent site of the Half Mile reserve at the Schaumann Road – Aronui intersection part of the reserve, which would be reviewed, Mr Bailey said.

Wilding Conifer Control Group project manager Pete Oswald said he was pleased with how the operation was carried out.

“In terms of efficacy and cost, and the fact that 825 trees came down, we had a really good result. We were pleased with the quality of the mahi, given the difficulties and challenges of the site.”

The Half Mile trees are deemed a significant seed source for wilding pines in the area, and in October 2021 were earmarked by the Central Otago District Council and Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group for removal.

At the time a lack of public consultation raised the ire of residents in the Bridge Hill area who use the reserve for recreation.

Public submissions on the issue were received last year, and in January the Vincent Community Board (VCB) agreed to the removal of wilding conifers at the reserve, but in a staged approach.

The CODC waded in on the issue at its last meeting on March 8 after the community board sought clarification whether the staged removal of trees was permitted under the council’s Wilding Conifer Control Policy, which was adopted in July last year.

After heated discussion mayor Tim Cadogan’s casting vote decided staged removal was not allowed under the policy.

Anyone wanting to collect firewood needed to call 03 440 0056 or email [email protected] beforehand