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The Rossland Range Recreation Site: an update. Hint ― commercial users need to get permission. And everybody, bring your own toilet paper.

Winter, 2014: Entrance to the old Berry Ridge cabin, now replaced by Lepsoe Basin cabin. Photo by Sara Golling

Since it all began

Background in brief, for newcomers: Quite a lot has happened since the Friends of the Rossland Range Society (FORRS) and Justin Dexter, the local District Recreation Officer for the  Ministry of Forests, signed a management plan for the Rossland Range Recreation Site (the Rec Site) in 2014. Some ratty but well-loved old cabins, a few of them no longer loved quite enough to be used any more, have been demolished and cleaned away, and some of them have been replaced with attractive new, rodent-proof cabins that meet the requirements imposed by the government for health and safety reasons. They even have outhouses! Better bring your own toilet paper, though. There may not be any, but please don't suffer any outrage about that. Rolls of TP are easy to carry ― your own supply of toilet paper is your own responsibility, much like your own lunch. The government doesn't provide either of them at this Rec Site, but for lunch it's a long-standing tradition to bring cheese sandwiches wrapped in foil and toast them on the stove.

Maps!

For those new to the area, or for anyone who loves maps, here's  a link to a map of the whole Rec Site. It's on the FORRS website, along with much more. Go to http://www.rosslandrange.org. There are other maps on the site as well.

The evolution of cabins

The old "cabins" were built illegally with volunteer labour and love, and with scrounged materials, including poles from the forest. The picture above shows a winter-time view of the entrance to one such cabin, now removed and replaced. New cabins have been built with volunteer labour and love and mostly new materials, paid for by donations and grants. For examples of that love, look at the doors of Sunspot and Viewpoint.

The Kootenay Mountaineering Club funded Lepsoe Basin cabin;  generous donors who want to remain anonymous funded the new Sunspot cabin; Justin Dexter managed to wangle  funds for materials for Viewpoint and Mosquito cabins; and grants funded materials for Chimo cabin, built by the 39th Combat Engineers. For a more complete list of donors, go to this page. There are many, all deserving gratitude.

"Red Dog" is being upgraded with volunteer labour and some new materials; it now has an outhouse and a separate woodshed, to help deter the packrat.  Some of the traditional  cabins are awaiting replacement.  "Igloo" cabin is having its crumbling fibreglass "igloo" section removed for safety reasons, and plans are in the works to re-build the cabin on a slightly different site to the required standard in the future. "Not So Secret" cabin is also due for reincarnation after new logging plans have been executed by the forestry tenure holder.  "Surprise" cabin, so nearly obliterated by  a mass of fallen trees, will be removed and replaced by a new "Booty's" cabin, to be built closer to the Seven Summits trail. That new cabin is expected to be built this fall.

For more details about the cabins and their history, try this link.  There are pictures, and a video.

Free public recreation

One of the community's main concerns has been preserving  the right to enjoy free public recreation in the Strawberry Pass area. That was the whole reason for FORRS when Rossland birthed it in 2003, and it has been a long struggle, one that culminated in the success of establishing the Rossland Range Recreation Site.

Last fall, when people noticed ads for commercial tours in the Rec Site, the question of commercial use of the Rec Site arose.  Many volunteers strongly opposed the concept of for-profit businesses benefiting from facilities built by volunteers and intended to be used by members of the public free of charge.  Donors who funded the new cabins also expressed anger ― their generosity was meant to benefit free public recreation, not to line the pockets of anyone charging for tours that could use the cabins.  By then, some commercial operators had already started charging for tours in the Rec Site.  They may have been unaware of the law triggered by the area's new status.

The law and commercial use

What law, you ask? Go to the website with BC legislation, and find the Forest Recreation Regulation, under the BC Forest and Range Practices Act. Section 16 prohibits the use of a recreation site or recreation trail for any business  activity, or competitive sporting events, without prior authorization from a District Recreation Officer. It also prohibits gatherings of more than 15 people ― that's so a great noisy mob doesn't keep others from enjoying the place.

FORRS has a policy

So please be advised:  if you want to charge for guided outings or run a competitive event in the Rec Site, including the Seven Summits Trail there, better apply to the Ministry of Forests District Recreation Officer, in advance. He is the one who can say yea or nay. He will consider a number of factors in making his decision; one ― but only one ― of those factors will be a recommendation from FORRS, based on a recently-developed policy. That policy can also be found on the FORRS website; here's a link to it. Bear in mind that this version may be adjusted in future.  

The FORRS policy is intended to protect free public recreation in the Rec Site, but also to permit some commercial activities or "competitive events" that may benefit the community (the "Broken Goat" race comes to mind as one example), or serve to introduce people to the area with lessons in how to enjoy outings there safely, so they can visit again on their own. The bottom line is this: commercial activity must not interfere with public enjoyment of free fun in the Rec Site.