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CLPS continues fight to save lands surrounding Cottonwood Lake

Tara Klapp, flanked by (from left) Andrew McBurney, RDCK Area E Director Ramona Faust and Bruce Morrison, speaks to the crowd during Wednesday's meeting of the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society at the Nelson Rod and Gun Club. — The Nelson Daily photo

The Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society cleared a major hurdle last month when the Regional District of Central Kootenay inked a deal to purchase private lands surrounding the Regional Park located 10 kilometers south of Nelson.

The $450,000 purchase of the 21.6 hectare parcel of land — partially funded with a $200,000 grant from Columbia Basin Trust — was mainly in response to public outcry over clear-cut logging by a private landowner near the popular Cottonwood Lake Regional Park.

However, CLPS board realizes this is only the first obstacle in the fight to preserve the more timber around Cottonwood Lake as there remains two more pieces of land that could come under the knife of the private owner — including the larger parcel located above Cottonwood Lake.

Wednesday, at the Rod and Gun Club, more than 80 people began the venture of making that happen.

“It was nice to be able to speak about things a little more publicly than at the last meeting, now that there has been this initial purchase of land,” Andrew McBurney, chair of the CLPS board.

“To have the full support of the RDCK behind us as we hone-in-on finishing what we started out to do, means a lot.”

The meeting, led  by Nelson City Councillor Rik Logtenberg, was called to first, alert the public that there is plenty more work to complete to achieve the goal of preserving forest around Cottonwood Lake Regional Park, and second, to get the group all moving in the same direction.

“(It’s) very important to keep moving ahead with the purchase of these other parcels,” McBurney explained. “As far as Cottonwood goes, we are not resting until we have that remaining 67% secured.”

“As for Apex, it's not much of a 'wildlife corridor' without trees, so yes, we have every intention of making that happen too,” McBurney added.

The meeting was an about-face of what happened in December when more than 400 people jammed the Rod and Gun Club to show support.

Wednesday, instead of a crowd listening to experts, organizers, following a Reader’s Digest version of what has transpired since December, allowed the audience to address the panel of McBurney, RDCK Area E Director Ramona Faust, retired Financial Planner, Bruce Morrison, who had joined the board to handle the finances, and CLRS staffer Tara Clapp with questions.

Those questions ranged from lobbying the Nature Conservancy of Canada to help take over the lands, fundraising discussions, the best avenue to achieve the goal, grant and letter writing and a brief overview of finance to date from Morrison.

One piece of positive news was Faust releasing news the RDCK will issue tax receipts to private donors.

“That the RDCK will issue tax receipts on our behalf, to large donors is key and a real game  changer,” McBurney said.

“There were some folks there tonight with great ideas, and we think we may have found some new people to help us.”

After a brief recess, volunteers were asked to join four focus groups to in an effort to streamline the group going forward.

“Partnerships with land trusts is something we are actively pursuing  and new fundraising strategies are being developed,” McBurney said.

“I think we're working within a reasonable timeline,” he added. “The landowner should have no reason to doubt our commitment, and we believe that he will work with us as we line things up.”

For more information on how people can get involved in the campaign, go to the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society website.

Paula Kiss (holding microphone) is one of the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society Board members introduced during Wednesday's meeting at the Rod and Gun Club. — The Nelson Daily photo