By Ida Koric, Rossland News
Is the issue of hut use threatening to derail the FORRS bid for a Rossland Range Recretion Area?
There is little doubt that the future of the “trespass huts” around Nancy Green Summit was the pre-eminent issue at last month’s Recreation Area Workshop, with participants providing a list of reasons why they were a vital aspect of the proposed plan.
The huts provide a destination for a ski or snowshoe outing; a place to warm up, dry out your gloves over the stove, have a snack, and socialize with strangers as they pile in out of the cold. They also provide safety, as emergency shelters, or mustering points for search and rescue personnel.
The history, quaintness, and intrinsic charm of the huts were also mentioned several times in the workshop, with area residents feeling a proprietary fondness for many of them. Those considered favourites by the participants include: Sunspot, Mosquito, Red Dog, View, Cookie Jar and Eagle’s Nest. Rock n Roll, Crowe’s Nest, Surprise and Berry Ridge came in as “second tier” considerations.
One prevalent misunderstanding about the hut situation seems to be the cause-effect relationship between Recreation Area designation and the removal of trespass huts. The Ministry of Forests has been planning a province-wide sweep and dismantling of non-authorized huts on Crown land for several years, with the mobilization of these removals imminent.
A Recreation Area designation will allow, at this point, five huts to stand as authorized, as opposed to the zero huts that would have attained such protection otherwise. FORRS representatives worried that the misinformation that the new designation is responsible for hut removal will lead to the community’s rejection of the plan. Community support is essential for this decades-long initiative to move forward.
A reduction in the number of huts posed a number of concerns for workshop attendees. The current crowding in huts during peak times is already an issue for some; far fewer huts would only result in increased concentrations of users.
One likelihood seems to be that, were five huts to remain, their size, location and infrastructure would have to be altered. The request to “grandfather” several additional huts, as well as a time extension for hut removal, were both included in workshop commentary.
Aside from hut salvation, other accessibility concerns were raised as well. Community members hope that with official management of the Range will come improvements to the safety and space of the parking area at the summit, a non-motorized use designation, re-design of several outhouses, and potentially better communication capacities (cell phone use for emergencies).
There is also the anticipation that forestry companies will work more closely with community agencies to lessen their impact on recreational opportunities.
All 39 pages of comments and suggestions can be viewed on the FORRS website: www.rosslandrange.org
FORRS would like to remind the community that the soft deadline for a workable use plan is due November 2014. The document will be a use and management plan that outlines the future and the stewardship of the Rossland Range.
The success of the bid for Recreation Area status hinges on community support, and the acceptance of this document by the Ministry of Forests.
As it is still in its drafting stage, FORRS would like to invite the community to a second workshop Dec. 3, 7 p.m. at the Miner’s Union Hall.