Environment Waikato’s environment committee has asked for more information on a proposal to buy a native bush block between Hamilton and Raglan. The information will be presented to the full council later this month for a decision on the purchase.
In 2006, Environment Waikato and the Department of Conservation (DOC) were offered the opportunity to purchase Hope Bush, a 200-hectare block of land owned by the Hope family.
The land is next to the Four Brothers Reserve, which had previously been donated to DOC by former Waikato District councillor, the late Michael Hope. After Mr Hope died, his sons contacted Environment Waikato and DOC about protecting the adjacent bush for public enjoyment.
The bush block is next to the Karamu Walkway and has the potential to be developed into a tramping or mountain biking area. In 1999, Environment Waikato identified the bush as a key ecological site. It is one of the larger forest fragments in the Raglan ecological district.
The environment committee was yesterday presented with a proposal to purchase the block through a package that involved Environment Waikato paying $500,000 cash and waiving some council consent charges.
The Native Forest Restoration Trust (NFRT) would contribute to the purchase, take the title to the property and protect it through covenants. The Department of Conservation would manage the land in perpetuity under an agreement with the NFRT.
Waikato District Council had supported the project through staff time and analysis of issues such as roading constraints, but had not agreed to contribute financially.
After debating the issue at yesterday’s meeting, the environment committee decided it wanted more information about a possible extension of the bush block boundary and the involvement of Waikato District Council.
It voted to refer the matter to the next full council meeting later this month.