By Jesse Cole, The Nelson Daily
The Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society (CLPS) has a little under a year to raise $750,000 and save Cottonwood Lake park.
In early 2020, Andrew McBurney, a spokesperson for the CLPS, announced that the society had entered into an agreement with the current landowner to purchase a portion of land surrounding the lake by the end of 2020.
“We have an agreement with the owner,” McBurney said. “We might have a few months past (the end of 2020) if we’re close to the goal, but essentially we have until the end of 2020. If we don’t manage to raise that money, it’s likely to be logged shortly afterwards.”
To date, 33 per cent of the land surrounding Cottonwood Lake has been purchased by a joint investment from the RDCK and the Columbia Basin Trust. The CLPS’ agreement would purchase the remaining 67 per cent and transfer ownership to a land conservation organization. $400,000 of the CLPS’ goal would be used to purchase the land outright, with the additional $350,000 being used to fund stewardship, pay legal fees and other additional costs.
“Our goal is to transfer the land to an unnamed conservation society,” McBurney said. “They need ancillary funds to help manage the land in perpetuity … we need X amount in stewardship fees and then there are legal fees, subdivisions fees. At the outside of things we need $750,000, but ideally, we’d be able to do it for $650,000. It’s easier to come down than to have to go up.”
A little over a year old, the CLPS is seeking donations through their gofundme and their website, savecottonwood.com. However, they’ve also enlisted the help of KEA Canada - a consultancy firm with a speciality in resource development and strategic fundraising.
“This is not our speciality, so we’ve enlisted the help of a national fundraising firm,” McBurney explained. “They seek out funding opportunities. We’ve hired them as consultants and we’re working with them to create a fundraising strategy.”
A portion of the money raised would also be used to cover the costs associated with hiring KEA Canada. It’s McBurney and the CLPS’s hope that they’ll be able to protect the area for future generations.
“The recreational value of the area cannot be understated. It appeals to young and old alike. It has connections throughout all four seasons, it’s stocked with 10K of trout each year. It’s just an incredibly valuable area that’s been part of the community for decades. Clearcutting would destroy the ethos of the area.”
Ramona Faust, the representative for the electorial area-E with the RDCK, praised the CLPS’s efforts.
“I applaud the work being done by the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society. It is inspiring to see local citizens and conservation groups persevere over this long period of time while they remain positive and committed to ensuring enough land is conserved to retain the ecological values of the well-loved and used Cottonwood Lake Area," Faust said via email.
"The Regional District of Central Kootenay staff have been instrumental in supporting their vision and it is a true community initiative."
The CLPS said they plan to dissolve if they’re successful in their efforts to protect the area at the end of 2020.