If the Cottonwood Preservation Society wants to buy the rest of the land to be logged near Cottonwood Lake — the land not being bought by the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) — it will have to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars soon, because logging could start any time.
The society held a meeting last week to ask for direction from its members and the public.
Treasurer Bruce Morrison reported the group has raised about $75,000 since its inception in December and has spent about $5,000 of that in its operations.
The money was raised mostly from a crowdfunding campaign ($55,600) and the rest from donations and events.
“This why we are here tonight,” Morrison said. “What do we do with this money, how do we leverage this money? The Apex watershed and the rest of the property could be logged up to the edge of the property the RDCK bought. We have to decide where do we go from here. What the RDCK has accomplished is phenomenal, but it may not be enough.”
About 100 people attended the meeting in its first half, dwindling to about 50 well before the end.
The society raised the $75,000 before the RDCK purchase decision, on the premise that it could be used as seed money to apply for large donations and grants to purchase some or all of the property to be logged by the private landowner, Nelson Land Corporation.
There was a strong desire at the meeting to somehow prevent the rest of the land from being logged — the two-thirds not bought by the RDCK. No one at the meeting knew the cost of the remaining land but the audience was invited to do the math, based on the $450,000 the RDCK is paying for its one-third. The actual price of the rest of the land would depend on negotiations with the landowner, which have not taken place.
And that won’t happen unless the society is able to offer a sum of money substantially larger than the amount it has already raised.
Tara Clapp, a fundraiser hired by the society within the past two weeks, told the meeting she has not looked into grants yet, and that a purchase offer would have to be made soon.
“The prospects for a grant-based fundraising strategy are not realistic,” she said, “because grants require a lot of homework and each one has a time frame of at least six months.”
Clapp said that given the time frame it would be more realistic to pursue donations from local people and organizations.
RDCK Area E representative Ramona Faust was asked if the RDCK would be willing to negotiate to buy more of the land.
Faust said she didn’t know. The current purchase depended on the support of the political leaders in the RDCK’s parks commission: the municipal governments of Nelson and Salmo, and the elected representatives of RDCK areas E,F, and G (the region in the general vicinity of Cottonwood Lake).
She explained that the RDCK already has a number of parks in the area that it needs to maintain, and it has other future park proposals. It would be a matter of priorities, she said.
However, the RDCK has committed to helping the society in non-monetary ways if the society were to purchase land, Faust said.
“In order to assist the community we can offer tax receipts for large donations, we can assist with the conservation covenant or conservation organizations, and we can work with the landowner because we have an established relationship. So we can assist in many ways. We would have to work with the community and figure out what that looks like.”
Society board member Paula Kiss set up a process in which meeting participants were asked to visit several stations around the room and give their ideas on the actions the group should take. But there was no time at the meeting to review these in any detail. Society chair Andrew McBurney told the Star the board will use the results to come up with a plan of action in the near future.
“The bottom line is we need money to purchase land to protect it,” he told the Star. “This is the goal we need to work toward. We need a decent sized chunk of money and we are going to do it.”