’Tis the season for backcountry snowshoeing and cross country skiing, and Rosslanders will find that the Rossland Range Recreation Site has undergone some upgrades over the off season.
Rossland News recently met up with Kim Deane, chair of Friends of the Rossland Range (FORR), and Les Carter, one of FORR’s directors, to get an update on the work done by volunteers over the summer and fall months. Deane and Carter said that there will soon be a new map to reflect the changes that have been made in the recreation site. “We’re developing a new map and a lot of the roads are named for old timers with a bit of a story,” said Deane.
Two new shelters
Two new shelters have been built to fit the guidelines outlined in the Rossland Range Recreation Site’s (RRRS) Management Plan. Sunspot was rebuilt in a new location west of the original, and Chimo was built by the 44th Field Engineer Squadron of the 39 Combat Engineer Regiment to replace Rock ’n’ Roll, approximately 200 meters away from the original location.
Both shelters also have new paths that lead to the new locations. “The road to Chimo commemorates Sgt. George Miok, who was killed in Afghanistan,” mentioned Carter.
Dean and Carter also reported that Sunspot recently received a gift from Jay Zanussi of Columbia Steel: a drying rack to hang over the wood-burning stove.
Upgrades to Red Dog, Viewpoint, Lepsoe
Red Dog is the only shelter in the RRRS that isn’t being replaced, but it needed some upgrades to fit with the guidelines in the management plan. The popular shelter is now rodent proof and is the only shelter with a rodent-proof wood shed.
Upgrades were also made to Viewpoint, including the installation of insulation and the installation of handrails on the stairs, and a wood shed was built for the Lepsoe shelter.
Cleanup of old sites is ongoing
While the old sites for the cabins that were replaced were generally cleaned up by those building the new shelters, some of the old structures are not being replaced. Last year students from Selkirk College demolished the Buffalo Jump and Lost cabins, and this year students from the Take a Hike program hiked out the debris from Buffalo Jump. To remove the debris from Lost, which was situated above a newly planted cutblock, FORR hired DIG Trail Design to remove the debris with a small excavator.
“We are cleaning up the old sites and it’s a commitment written into the management plan,” said Carter.
Phase 1 of Old Glory lookout restoration complete
With the help of a helicopter and three groups of trades people, and under the direction of Demitri Lesniewicz, the windows and door of the Old Glory lookout were replaced, its foundation was reinforced and the grounding system was repaired. Lightning hazard signs were also put up not only at the lookout, but on the route to the top of Old Glory. For next year, the plan is to repair the siding and roof, and to clean up the inside.
The helicopter was also used to fly out two huge bags of garbage — the first step in cleaning up the top of Old Glory — but there is still a barrel of broken glass that needs to be removed. “The landfill has been waving its fees for any waste,” shared Deane, “which is very nice of them, because they were heavy. I don’t know what that would have cost.” Carter estimates that the waved tipping fees would have been close to $600.
More parking for rec site users
FORR is working on getting a larger parking lot at the Nancy Greene summit, and has approached the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about converting the pit next to the Seven Summits Trail into a parking lot.
This year Emcon expanded the parking lot at the Crowe Forest Service Rd., but FORR volunteers have also worked on improving the trail across from the parking lot at the summit so that rec site users can start their north-side treks from there. BC Timber Sales also expanded the parking area at the Hannah Creek trailhead for Old Glory.
Thanks to the cooperation of ATCO, FORR was also able to clean out a flat area next to the Murphy Creek trailhead to allow for more parking. “Whether we can get it plowed or not remains to be seen,” said Deane.
New trails in the RRRS include a new trail across from the summit, called Strawberry Shortcut. The trail goes up to the Crowe Rd. intersection without any steep grades. This year the effort has mostly been to re-enforce established routes, but next year Deane and Carter said there will be new routes as well, including better trails to and from Sunspot.
Signage to come
With the help of Emcon, FORR has purchased 25 galvanized steel signposts, 12 or 13 of which have been put in, and each post will get a “you are here” sign, so that new rec site users can find their way. FORR is also working on a main kiosk for the summit parking lot.
Thinning done to improve access
FORR hired Greentree Silviculture Limited and Newton Holdings to do thinning at the entrance to White Owl Pass (located above the Cookie Jar cabin), in the Lepsoe Basin, in the timber above Mosquito, and along some of the old logging roads.
FORR to apply for charitable status
FORR is currently working on getting charitable status. To facilitate the application, FORR’s membership voted to change section two of its constitution to read:
“2. The purposes of the society are:
a) To provide a public amenity by establishing and maintaining a network of day-use cabins within the Rossland Range; and
b) To do all such things as are incidental or ancillary to the attainment of the above purpose.”