The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) has been negotiating to buy land owned by Nelson Land Corporation that the company is currently logging near Cottonwood Lake, according to an RDCK director.
RDCK directors are concerned that the unregulated private land logging could drastically affect the landscape on the Highway 6 entrance to Nelson and reduce the recreational and aesthetic value of Cottonwood Lake Park, the Apex and Busk ski areas, and the rail trail.
“The cost [of the purchase] would be substantial,” said Hans Cunningham, who represents Area G, the rural area around Salmo.
But he declined to disclose the amount, which would have to be borrowed.
“It has to be approved first by all the members of the committee.”
By that he means his own area plus Area E (represented by Ramona Faust), Area F (represented by Tom Newell) and the municipalities of Salmo and Nelson.
“If they approve it, that will be a standing offer to the owner of the property and then we can progress,” Cunningham said. “If it gets logged we might as well pave over Cottonwood Park.”
Nelson Land Corporation owns several parcels on both sides of Highway 6 from the Giveout Creek area to beyond the Apex ski area, and the company has been logging there since the spring.
Private land logging in B.C. is not regulated by the province or anyone else.
The land to be harvested could include the forests around Cottonwood Lake (except the small area of the park on the northwest end of the lake) and the slope immediately adjacent to the Apex ski area, as well as all of the land in between on both sides of the highway.
Cunningham said the three rural areas would like to go ahead with purchasing the land and adding it to Cottonwood Lake Park, but it is contingent on agreement by the two municipalities, which would bear much of the cost of borrowing.
He said he expects the matter to come to Nelson and Salmo municipal councils very soon. These meetings would be in camera (not open to the public) because it is a confidential negotiation about the purchase of land.
Nelson’s city manager Kevin Cormack, Area E representative Ramona Faust, RDCK chair Aimee Watson, and Salmo mayor Diana Lockwood all declined to comment for this story. Nelson Land Corporation told the Star last summer that it never talks to the media about its projects.
In September, municipalities around the province endorsed a resolution brought to the annual conference of the Union of BC Municipalities by the RDCK asking the provincial government to regulate private land logging. The initiative was spurred partly by the logging at Cottonwood Lake.
Nelson Land Corporation, formed in the fall of 2017 by Mike Jenks and Bernie van Maren, bought the properties in December 2017. Jenks is known in the Kootenays and on Vancouver Island for buying up large tracts of private land, logging it, and then selling it, using several company names.
Sunshine Logging of Kaslo is the contractor hired by Nelson Land Corporation to carry out the logging.