One of the local areas utilized by local and regional residents alike as a recreational site is now one step closer to being reality. In an effort that began 14 years ago, the Friends of the Rossland Range Society (FORRS) have completed a management plan for the area now known as the Rossland Range Recreation Site. The section of the Rossland Range area between the Red Resort recreational area and Big Red Cats tenure has long been used by locals and visitors as hiking trails and a backcountry ski area and includes several warming cabins built by volunteers. Structures on crown land are subject to stringent rules so the government wanted to remove these cabins but was persuaded otherwise by the community.
As recreational use in the area has continued to grow over the years, the need for community management of access and the shelters was recognized by the provincial government. In a statement made during a public meeting October 22 board director Kim Deane said, “The provincial government has offered a very large recreational site in return for the community managing both the access but most importantly the shelters in some sort of manner agreed upon with them.” The land was originally managed by the province by the Ministry of Forests and includes a forest license belonging to ATCO of Fruitvale.
In September of last year this area was officially designated as a provincial recreational site in partnership with the FORRS and planning and public consultations began to create a management plan for the area as required by the Ministry of Forests. This plan is now complete and will be sent to the Ministry for final approval before work begins on one of the key points in the plan, a new generation of day use shelters to replace the aging warming cabins. The plan: “attempts to balance the community needs with the requirements of the government.”
One of the original requirements by the provincial government was that the number of shelters be reduced to only five but according to board director Les Carter, “Shelters are the key to the community buy-in and the terrain is very important in justifying the number of shelters for safety reasons.” It is the hope of the society that the government will be lenient with this number as there are justifications for the number of shelters remaining, and there is some removal and consolidation occurring.
The final plan being submitted to the province for review includes nine shelters when complete, each to be brought up to government standards in some way. Director Kim Deane said, “We hope and indeed expect that what we are proposing will be accepted in whole or in part by the provincial government but it is not a done deal.” It is the hope of all involved that the work of the past year will soon come to fruition in the acceptance of a plan that the community can be proud of.