If a tree falls in Cottonwood Lake forest many people will hear.
So many people, in fact, that city council has stepped up with a letter of support for the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society (CLPS) in their effort to save the favourite recreational area from logging.
Last Monday city council approved — at the behest of a notice of motion of Coun. Rik Logtenberg — endorsement of a letter of support for the community initiative to preserve the forested land above Cottonwood.
“To say that this lake and the forest around it and the values embedded in it for recreation, for ecology even just the aesthetic, the beauty of the place, they’ve come together to say this is something that we care about,” he said in council chambers during a recent regular meeting of council.
“I think we are beholden as a council to listen to our community and understand what they are saying is important. And I think the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society really embodies what the community wants and have led the effort to save it.”
The CLPS will be advocating to the various levels of government to encourage the establishment of regulations or standards that would not allow for the kind of “dangerous and irresponsible logging practices that are currently happening across B.C. on private land, including these parcels,” noted CLPS member Paula Kiss in a letter to city council.
She said the “Save Apex to Cottonwood” campaign kicked off in response to an awareness campaign that had concerns about logging in the Cottonwood-Apex corridor.
In order to get the land in question into public stewardship, Kiss said the society needed to fundraise at least $50,000 from the community as seed money to leverage grants and create a community-owned park.
Currently, the Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors is negotiating to buy the land in question that is being logged by the Nelson Land Corporation.
The RDCK would have to borrow the money to buy the land, however, the borrowing would have to be approved by the regional district areas E, F, G, Salmo and Nelson.
According to Kiss, the Cottonwood-Apex corridor “has significant value to our community,” with the land at the same height between the Nelson and Bonnington mountain ranges.
“This area is not only a natural wildlife corridor but also contains a diverse wetland ecosystem which feeds into two major drainages: the Salmo River and Cottonwood Creek,” she wrote in her letter.
The area is also used heavily for recreation — fishing, biking, hiking and skating in the winter — with the Great Northern Rail Trail going through both areas. The Nelson Nordic Ski Club also has a significant network of trails in the area.
The Nelson Land Corporation has been logging since last spring on land it owns on both sides of Highway 6 near Cottonwood Lake. The land is private and, as such, is not regulated by the province for logging practices.
The regional district said the land that could still be logged are up to the lake — except for a section on the northwest end of the lake — and a piece of land near the Apex ski area.
“The area is a gateway to the Nelson area and a major transportation route for tourists and visitors,” wrote Kiss in her letter. “Clear cut logging will negatively impact our visitor’s experience of the area.
“The slopes under threat have been identified as potentially unstable if logged, creating a new avalanche risk that would threaten recreational users as well as highway travellers in the valley.”