Private land on both sides of Highway 6 from about two kilometres north of Cottonwood Lake to the south end of the Apex cross country ski area will be logged this summer or next.
Because it is on private land, the owner, Nelson Land Corporation headed by Mike Jenks of Cranbrook, has limited rules to follow and does not have to tell anyone about his plans.
It is unknown where or how large the cut blocks will be and whether the forest will be clearcut or selectively logged. 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 above the Apex ski area, and all of the land in between on both sides of the highway.
The land may be in a B.C. Assessment tax category known as Private Managed Forest, in which case the owner may have received tax breaks from the provincial government in exchange for providing specific minimum environmental protections.
Because this is potentially a large, highly visible project that could significantly affect the landscape on the approach to Nelson, the Star has tried to find out what areas will be logged, how they will be logged and over what time period, what measures will be put in place to protect Cottonwood Creek or to avoid increasing avalanche risk, how wildfire risk will be mitigated, and whether the public will be informed or consulted.
Jenks is a veteran of private land logging in other areas of the province. Contacted by the Star in February, he said he won’t talk about his plans because he never speaks to the media. His logging contractor, Sunshine Logging of Kaslo, also won’t discuss it.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) has no control over logging on private land. Jenks’ land lies in the areas of two RDCK directors, Hans Cunningham and Ramona Faust. In a Star article published in February, Cunningham expressed concern and said he was looking into it.
But now neither he nor Faust is willing to comment. Nor are RDCK chair Karen Hamling or Nelson’s mayor Deb Kozak who is a member of the RDCK board.
MLA Michelle Mungall has not responded to a request for comment.
Louise Poole, president of the Nelson Nordic Ski Club, expressed concern in the Star’s February article. Contacted again for this article she said she had no further information or comments.
Dianna Ducs, who runs Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism, said, “I don’t have a lot of information, but from a tourism perspective, if the logging goes ahead, as we are assuming, it is not going to be good aesthetically (for locals or visitors) or environmentally (land erosion, avalanches, animals, and reduced use of the land for recreation).”
Jenks’ land extends a short distance up Whitewater Road.
“We were aware there was a potential for logging at the bottom of the road,” said Rebeckah Hornung, Whitewater’s sales and marketing manager. “Our concern would be increased avalanches, which could be negatively impact our road access, but the process would be an avalanche risk assessment that would happen in conjunction with the Ministry of Highways.”