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Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society meets deadline, saves surrounding forest from clear-cut logging

Cottonwood Lake Regional Park will remain a place for winter, and summer activities, now that CLPS raised $400,000 to purchase and save the 49 hectares from logging. — The Nelson Daily photo

It took almost two years, but the Cottonwood Lake Preservation Society (CLPS) finally achieved its spirited, public campaign to raise $400,000 to purchase 49 hectares of mature forest situated directly above Cottonwood Lake.

Andrew McBurney, one of the lead volunteers behind the campaign and the Society’s spokesperson, made the announcement Monday that the CLPS raised the necessary funds to meet the February 28th deadline.

“The outpouring of support from individuals, the local business community, conservation agencies, and regional government has been truly incredible,” a beaming McBurney said.

“It’s been a long road to get here, but we couldn’t be more ecstatic to share this incredible news with the community.”

The campaign started in December of 2018 at the Rod and Gun Club in Nelson when concerned citizens upset over the potential logging of private lands surrounding Cottonwood Lake Regional Park jammed the hall to take the first steps in formulating a plan on how to stop the owner from continuing to rape the hillside at the park located south of Nelson on Highway 6.

The standing room only crowd listened to experts in avalanche control and grizzly bears, a biologist on the effects logging has on wildlife, a hydrologist, as well as representatives from the Nelson Cycling Club, Rod and Gun Club, Nordic Ski Club, City of Nelson councillors as well as a Regional District of Central Kootenay Area Director.

From online auctions and photo competitions, grade school fundraisers and grant applications, McBurney said everyone who worked directly with the society through to the many hundreds who donated an idea, an hour, a photo, the CLPS is pleased to announce enough funds have been raised to purchase the land and Save Cottonwood Lake.

“We can’t thank the people of our community enough,” said Bruce Morrison, the Society’s CFO.

“From all the volunteers, to the people who directly worked on the campaign, to the local business community and individuals from both here and afar, we are truly humbled by the outpouring of support.”

“This is a huge statement, especially through a pandemic, that if people care enough about something, together they can make a real difference,” Morrison added.

McBurney said with close to 1,000 separate donations, meeting the fundraising deadline represents a huge milestone for Nelson and area residents.

He said for decades the Cottonwood Lake Regional Park has been an important multi-season recreational destination for thousands of people.

“It’s also an important environmental win for the community as grizzly bears, fish and other wildlife use the lake and its surrounding forests as a corridor linking two significant wilderness zones that have, over the years, been heavily affected by logging,” McBurney explained.

McBurney said the CLPS now moves into the process of purchasing the land from the landowner, which will be done through the RDCK.

He said the project then moves towards appraising and surveying the land in preparation of handing it over to a land trust where it will be managed and protected in perpetuity.