The Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society has entered into an agreement with a timber company to purchase 40 hectares of land, part of which had been slated for logging and almost half of which has already been recently clearcut (see map).
The land is adjacent to 21 hectares of forest land at Cottonwood Lake purchased by the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and added to Cottonwood Lake Regional Park earlier this year.
The society has decided not to disclose the purchase price.
“We are just saying that we have a fundraising goal of $750,000,” the society’s Andrew McBurney told the Star. “We are not disclosing the split between the purchase price and the ancillary costs.”
Those costs, he said, include legal fees plus the costs of fundraising, administration, surveying, and subdividing.
The agreement allows the group a year to come with the money. It has hired Kea Canada, a national fundraising organization, to help them do that. In the meantime Nelson Land Corporation will not log the land further.
Once the society raises the funds, the land will be purchased by the RDCK so donors can get a tax receipt for their contributions, but then it will be transferred to a “nature organization” that cannot yet be named, McBurney said.
“We would not be the long-term landowner,” the RDCK’s CAO Stuart Horn confirmed, adding that the transaction will not cost the RDCK anything.
When the RDCK purchased its 21 hectares earlier this year for $450,000 including $200,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust, it stated that it would find ways to assist the society non-financially if it wished to purchase more land at Cottonwood Lake. This tax receipt plan fulfills that commitment, McBurney said.
The society’s $750,000 goal includes the $56,000 the group already raised earlier this year with a GoFundMe campaign.
Why buy land of which almost half is already clearcut?
“That clearcut is ripe for commercial development,” said McBurney, “like a gravel pit or a subdivision. The agreement is not just for the trees but the land. We want to protect it from something that might not preserve the values of Cottonwood Lake.”
If the society is not able to raise the required money by next December, McBurney said, the donations will go to the RDCK for improvements to Cottonwood Lake Park or for future land purchases for the park.
The 40 hectares to be purchased by the society and the 21 hectares bought earlier this year by the RDCK are a small part of the approximately 600 hectares in the immediate area owned and slated for logging by Nelson Land Corporation. One of the other parcels is south of Cottonwood Lake in the vicinity of the Apex ski area and includes the forested slope adjacent to the Apex trails.