After three years of hard work, the Rossland Recreation Site project is nearly complete.
The Friends of the Rossland Range (FORR) have been working on building new infrastructure, restoring the Old Glory fire lookout, improving trails, putting up signage and whatever else it takes to make the Rossland Recreation Site a fun place for both Rosslanders and tourists to bike, hike, ski and snowshoe.
FORR chair Kim Deane and board director Les Carter provided an update to the organizations’ members at FORR’s annual general meeting last Wednesday, outlining what was done in 2017 and what still needs to be completed in 2018.
This year saw the completion of Booty’s Cabin, located a short trek down the Seven Summits Trail. The cabin’s larger size and full-width stairs were designed to accommodate school and community groups.
The 39th Field Engineer Squadron also upgraded Chimo Cabin.
“Just wrapping up the completion of Chimo: insulation, stairs, what not,” explained Deane.
Red Dog Cabin had a new entrance ramp and window installed and restoration of the Old Glory fire lookout continued.
FORR also built a new parking lot on the south side of the highway beside the Seven Summits trailhead.
“Now we’re working on keeping it plowed, which is an interesting challenge day by day,” said Deane.
Looking ahead to next year, two of the cabins included in the original project still need to be finished.
The old fibreglass igloo at Igloo Cabin was torn down this year, but there’s still much to be done.
“For this year there’s just the A-frame and next year there should be a brand new cabin and no a-frame,” said Carter.
Not So Secret also still needs to be completed.
“Not So Secret is waiting for ATCO’s logging road to go to the top of the Elgood Valley,” said Carter.
Carter also mentioned that he had received a lot of feedback regarding two other cabins that people would like kept, so FORR has requested permission from the province to rebuild or restore Eagle’s Nest and Crowe’s Nest.
In response, FORR was asked to present a next phase for the rec site.
But overall, Deane indicated that the three-year “development mode” FORR has been in is coming to an end and the organization is now looking forward to “operational mode,” which has also raised the question of how FORR will continue to raise funding in the future — especially since FORR memberships are $5 lifetime memberships.
Asked about ongoing income for the organization by a member, Deane replied, “Rec Sites and Trails, the province, they’ve funded us to about $60,000. So they’ve been giving us $20,000 to $30,000 [a year] so far, that’s going to drop down probably to $3,000 to $5,000 as an ongoing amount.”
Kelvin Saldern, community liaison for the Columbia Basin Trust, southwest, attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of the CBT.
“This project, which we helped fund over the last couple of years, has completely amazed us. At the speed and the volunteer effort and everything that’s happened here in such a short time. And people who I’ve talked to who come and visit from elsewhere in the Basin, they can’t believe what happened and the fact that it happened in this self-organizing way,” he said.
Deane was modest about the efforts made by FORR’s board of directors and pointed to the community for supporting the project. Approximately 10,000 volunteer labour hours have gone into the project so far.
“Everybody sees the infrastructure — the cabins, the trails, all that — but I see something else: We built an army,” said Carter.
Now that winter is here, it’s time for skiers, snowshoers and fat bikers to head out onto the trails and into the cabins.
Rec site users are reminded that the cabins are intended for day use only, and snowshoers are reminded to lay their own track instead of walking over sky tracks.
FORR will also once again be running a snow host program this year.
Anyone interested in being a host or arranging a tour of the north or south side of the Rossland Range Recreation Site should contact Rob Richardson at email@example.com.
For more information about Friends of the Rossland Range, you can visit rosslandrange.org.