by Ida Koric
On the evening of Tuesday, July 8, Monticola Forest Ltd hosted a community stakeholders meeting to discuss land use concerns around newly-purchased private forest surrounding the city of Rossland.
In attendance were representatives of Red Mountain, Tourism Rossland, Blackjack Ski Club, Friends of the Rossland Range and the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society.
Monticola Forest Ltd. is a local forest management company, hired by the Behn family of Germany (operating under the company names of Selkirk Mountain Forest and Rossland Forest) to determine the best use of resources and to work in partnership with local stakeholders. The land in question includes four local parcels, which mostly span former Beaumont Forest Products Ltd property.
There are two larger parcels, one of which is situated both north and south of the Cascade Hwy, including the corridor currently housing the Dewdney mountain bike trail. The second spreads east and west in an area that has seen its share of logging trucks – the vicinity of Tiger Main, engulfing several trails originating along Malde Creek FSR. A smaller but more prominent parcel encapsulates the Blackjack ski trails and biathlon range.
All of the stakeholders present seemed to be unified in their views; tourism in Rossland has grown immensely in recent years, primarily due to non-motorized recreation such as mountain biking and skiing.
The natural surroundings, including the aesthetics of the forests, have been an integral part of this economic growth and the community groups hoped that the new landowner would be sensitive to these concerns.
It was acknowledged that several user groups have been operating on private land for years, relying on the graciousness of their hosts, and the sentiment in the room seemed optimistic that such a generous partnership would continue with a new landlord on the scene.
Rainer Munter, Monticola owner and manager, had questions of his own regarding land usage possibilities. His hopes were that, in addition to timber harvesting, multiple avenues of revenue generation would be considered for the land, such as commercial recreation operators or businesses situated on the properties.
In regards to the harvest, Munter is still in the initial stages of a 20-year management plan, but has started with a two-year vision of dispersed timber harvesting. During this time period, at least, he does not envision the construction of new logging roads.
The harvest began Tuesday morning in the area around Lake Mountain – all affected town roads have been signed with active logging notices, and residents are asked to use caution when driving these roads.
Monticola will continue to meet annually with stakeholders, but also expressed a willingness to communicate plans and imminent activities with interested Rossland parties in years to come.
Ultimately, the landowner, within constraints of forestry practices regulations, may do with the land what he will, and as the years unfold we shall see if Monticola will find success integrating community visions into the grand scheme.