The heartbreaking task of removing the bushfire-ravaged trees from the once-iconic Sugar Pine Walk has begun.
The area, located near Laurel Hill in the Bago State Forest, was so badly damaged by the Dunns Road bushfire that it was considered to be dangerous and the trees slated for removal.
However, plans are already in place to develop a new attraction in the Snowy Valleys region featuring some of the area's oldest trees, as well as planting replacement sugar pines.
Even before the summer bushfires, the Forestry Corporation had begun planning for a replacement for the hugely popular tourist attraction. Some of the trees around Sugar Pine Walk were at least 90 years old.
"We recognise that this is a special site for the local community and visitors and, in fact, several years ago we had already begun planning a long-term project to grow a replacement Sugar Pine Walk, with the expectation that it would grow over the course of a generation so it would be well-established as the existing Sugar Pine Walk began to become old and unsafe," a forestry spokesperson said.
"Last year we cleared and prepared a five-hectare site close to the current Sugar Pine Walk and, while we had a minor setback a couple of years ago propagating seedlings, as it's not a species traditionally grown in Australia, work is continuing.
"Following fires, many trees will release seeds to regenerate the forest as a survival mechanism and that's happened here with the existing trees, so we have begun propagating the next generation of seedlings from these green shoots."
While work continues on developing a new forest of sugar pines, Forestry is keen to show off some of the area's other sites.
"We also have some impressive stands of 100-year-old radiata pine in this forest and are now looking to develop a new facility for locals and visitors in the forest while the new Sugar Pine Walk grows in its new location for the future," the spokesperson said.
Snowy Valleys mayor James Hayes said it was hard for the community to lose an iconic attraction like Sugar Pine Walk.
But he was pleased plans were already in place for not only new sugar pine attractions, but also to promote some of the other sites in Snowy Valleys.
"Perhaps, there could even be more than one site replanted and developed in the future," Councillor Hayes said.
Deputy mayor John Larter said it was very disappointing that the bushfires had destroyed Sugar Pine Walk, but he said the area now the chance to develop new attractions.