The unique Gardens of Stone landscapes offer an opportunity for a unique future to strengthen Lithgow's economic future, visitor plan Destination Pagoda states.
The plan, created by the Colong Foundation, Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Lithgow Environment Group, was launched at Lithgow Workies on Monday night, April 8.
Adventurer and park management consultant Ian Brown, plan co-author with Elizabeth Dudley-Bestow, said the aim was to create a world class tourism and conservation reserve right next to Lithgow, "right on its doorstep".
"We'll grow and diversify the city's economy," he said.
"It's important to point out that it's not proposed to preserve the area as a national park, but as a state conservation area.
"There's a very important reason for that, because mining can still be permitted in a state conservation area...
"So this is an attempt to marry those two objectives in the area."
The plan focuses on improving access to the key pagoda sites in the region, as well as creating visitor nodes at which people can find information and facilities on site.
"A new 39,000 hectare Gardens of Stone conservation area could provide attractive visitor facilities, linked to upgraded tourist roads out of Lithgow, build a vibrant local tourist economy, conserve internationally significant pagoda landscapes... while allowing responsible mining to continue," Mr Brown said.
"So we think it's a win-win-win for people, the environment and the economy."
The area mainly focuses on the three state forest areas of Ben Bullen, Wolgan, Newnes and the Maiyingu Marragu Aboriginal Place.
The 10 year improvement and development plan would cost $31.6 million and $800,000 annually to manage, the plan estimates.
"Both federal parties have promised $200 million to upgrade Kakadu National Park so, compared to that, it's pretty reasonable, really, considering how close it is to major population centres around here," Mr Brown said.
The plan would offer opportunities for Lithgow to reach its stated goals to "diversify its economy and grow its employment in tourism and encourage its young people to stay," Mr Brown said.
Mr Brown's presentation was followed by the premiere of a film developed award-winning documentary film-maker Tom Zubrycki. His work, 'Gardens of Stone: Living landscape' tells the story of the Gardens of Stone campaign.
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