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Cottonwood Lake land transfer begins as 49 ha. is set to shift into nature conservancy

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
March 31st, 2022

The intensive work to save 49 hectares of land near Cottonwood Lake is coming to fruition.

The intent to transfer the land acquired by the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) in 2021— as a result of the fundraising efforts by the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society (CLPS) — to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has begun.

With the intent to transfer now being published and all of the related expenses and stewardship endowment to be paid, the only parts of the process left will be to finalize the closing dates and sign the land donation agreement.

In June 2020 the RDCK, CLPS and NCC developed a memorandum of understanding to work in collaboration to protect the natural habitats and ecological features occurring on the land.

However, the majority of the heavy lifting was done by the society, noted RDCK parks planner Mark Crowe in his report to the board of directors, in that the society completed the fundraising, property negotiations, survey of the land and the covering of all related expenses.

“The RDCK has been involved as we have special powers under the Land Title Act to subdivide and title land which is to be held for public interest purposes,” he said. “The RDCK also believes in partnering with local groups for asset maintenance and diverse funding opportunities.”

The transferred land is to be held by NCC — considered Canada’s leading national land conservation organization — for conservation purposes but will not be considered regional park. However, it will serve to protect the natural habitats and ecological features occurring on the lands.

This isn’t the first time the NCC has been involved in the regional district. In fact, NCC participation in the RDCK first occurred in 1996 and “has demonstrated exemplary land stewardship for several conservation areas in the region,” said Crowe.

“NCC have conducted initial surveys and identified several important ecological habitats and features on the parcel,” he said.

The lands were appraised as of May 20, 2021 with the market value set at $410,000, a sum considered to be fair market value.

Two years prior

In 2019 the regional district purchased 21.6 hectares of private land to be added to Cottonwood Lake Regional Park.

The purchase was made possible with funding from Columbia Basin Trust, RDCK loan proceeds and through the issuance of a tax receipt for land donation purposes, noted Crowe in his report to the board.

“These lands are now owned in fee simple by the regional district and have been set aside for regional park purposes,” he said.

Gift of land

As per the memorandum:

2.1 – The RDCK hereby offers to donate the Lands to the NCC and the NCC agrees to accept the full fee simple interest in the Lands, subject to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.

2.2 – The NCC and RDCK acknowledge that the Lands are being donated to ensure the perpetual conservation of the important biological values that occur on the Lands.

As a condition to the donation of the Lands to the NCC, the NCC hereby covenants and agrees to receive, hold, and manage the Lands for these conservation purposes.

Provided that in no event shall the Lands be transferred to any person for a purpose other than the perpetual conservation thereof, should the NCC wish to transfer the Lands to a third party the NCC shall first provide the RDCK with written notice of any proposed transfer, following which RDCK shall have an opportunity to provide comment with respect to such proposed transfer.

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