Public pressure for another authorized cabin in the Rossland Range Recreation Site

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
November 23rd, 2017

At the Friends of the Rossland Range Society (FORRS) AGM on September 22, board Chair Kim Deane presented the charitable society's financial information, as well as what FORRS has done over the past year, and the new board ― just like the old board, as that line in the famous song by The Who almost goes ― was acclaimed.

Accomplishments over the past year include getting the new Booty's cabin ready for visitors, though it's not yet complete ― the walls still need cladding; creation of a new parking lot to accommodate the large increase in visitors, though the problem of how to keep it plowed is still unresolved; partial renovation of the old fire lookout on Old Glory; removal of trash from Old Glory, and removal of the collapsing fibreglass "igloo" portion of the Igloo cabin, and a new outhouse installed at the Igloo site; the removal of vast quantities of alder and other brush blocking a number of the roads used as winter routes by skiers and snowshoers; new routes cleared, to ease crowding; some thinning through dense areas of re-growth in former clear-cuts; dropping dead-and-down timber in the forest above Mosquito cabin (an area known to some as "Mirkwood").

Deane noted that the one-time Canada 150 grant enabled much of the work to be done, as well as funding from  Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), the Kootenay Mountaineering Club, and several other generous private and corporate donors.  

The members present voted to keep the membership fee for a lifetime membership at $5, largely because of the difficulty of finding a volunteer member to  track membership and persuade members to renew annually. Some indicated a willingness to pay more, and Les Carter pointed out that the FORRS website includes a button for making donations, and that any donation over $20 is eligible for a tax receipt.

Deane opened the floor to questions from the members.  The topic of cabins came up.

Eagle's Nest is not an authorized cabin. But people want one there.

Members spoke of visiting Eagle's Nest recently and finding it "a mess" thanks to bushy-tailed wood rats, also known as pack-rats, and copious amounts of their excrement.  It's one of the old A-frame, dirt-floored shelters, slated for removal.  Someone mentioned that Eagle's Nest is in a beautiful location for people with young children who can manage to trek only that far, or for older people who are re-discovering the joys of exercising outdoors and find Eagles' Nest a challenging but do-able destination, or for people with some disabilities that limit their ability to go further on to Sunspot or Lepsoe Basin cabins.  

FORRS member Rob Richardson, who built Viewpoint cabin, is keen to take on the design and construction of a replacement Eagles' Nest. All he needs to get started is permission from the government.   

Other works in progress

Two authorized cabins are not yet complete.  A new Igloo cabin, at the top end of the South Fork Murphy Creek drainage, across from the north face of Mount Plewman,  is in progress. Pictured below — the original Igloo shelter:

Not-so-Secret cabin, in the Elgood Creek valley,  will  not be upgraded until Atco builds its logging road into that valley, and construction will be timed to accommodate the logging schedule.  The new version will be somewhat higher up the valley than the current structure.

That sensitive commercial use issue

Carter noted that the board has developed a Commercial Use Policy which is quite restrictive, because it prioritizes free public use and access to the cabins over any commercial tours that might want to make use of the cabins. Given the large increase in use at the Rec Site by people from Rossland, Nelson, Castlegar, Grand Forks, Fruitvale, Salmo, Trail, Montrose, and Warfield, as well as many visitors from all over the world, cabins are increasingly heavily used and are often crowded by people of all ages. Justin Dexter, the Ministry of Forests District Recreation Officer, makes all decisions on applications for commercial use in the Rec Site, but he consults with FORRS, and the board gives him advice based on their policy. Dexter considers their advice along with other factors. Provincial law requires commercial users of recreation sites to obtain official permission in advance, from the District Recreation Officer.

At the end of the meeting, member Kelvin Saldern (Manager, Community Relationship West for CBT) said that he was putting on his CBT hat to express amazement and gratification about all that FORRS and its roster of volunteers has accomplished since obtaining Recreation Site status for the area between the Red Mountain Ventures commercial tenure and the Big Red Cats commercial tenure.

On that happy note, the meeting adjourned.

Categories: GeneralSports

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