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Stokely Creek reaches agreement with Astina

Tue, Oct  16, 2007 - By Doug Pitt and Steve Holmes

Dear friends of the Algoma Highlands Conservancy:

It has been a long, hot summer of very tough negotiations, but we at the AHC are very happy to announce that we have finally reached an agreement with Astina!!! Stokely Creek Lodge will be in full operation this winter and the partnership that we have formed with Astina represents a very positive and critical turning point in securing a long-term future for the Lodge AND conserving the ecological and silent sport recreational values of the surrounding lands.

The agreement that we have reached with Astina involves three components. First, the AHC and Stokely Creek Lodge (SCL) will hold a ten-year licence for the exclusive use of the entire Stokely trail system for silent sport recreation. Under this licence, the three parties will work together to minimize and discourage the use of motorized recreational vehicles, including the posting of signage to deter unauthorized access. The parties will also work together to minimize the impact of forest management activities on the ski operation, through the annual review of forest management plans, and by curtailing all forest management activities during the critical winter period in core ski areas, including Walker and Evans Lakes, Sayer Lake, Pykonnen’s Pass, and King Mountain. Through mutual agreement of all three parties, this licence may be renewed after the initial ten-year period.

Second, the AHC will hold a two-year option to purchase the 2600 ac below the Tupper-Van Koughnet line (i.e., all lands immediately beyond the Lodge, through to King Mountain, and beyond, to the Robertson Cliffs – see attached map). The purchase price is set at $1.5 M and all available AHC funds and donations will be applied to this purchase. The purchase will guarantee a solid, protected, 3000-ac land base for the AHC and SCL to use as a platform for conservation, silent-sport recreation, outdoor education, and research - in perpetuity.

Third, AHC Board member Gaylen Byker, his wife Susan, son-in-law Ian Phair, and daughter Tanya will purchase and operate the Lodge under the name “Stokely Creek Lodge”. SCL will jointly hold the trail licence with the AHC (as described above). Jamie Martin will be this year’s Lodge manager. Gaylen has also generously offered to match all private donations towards the purchase of the King Mountain property generated over the next 2 years.

While all these negotiations have been going on, long-time Stokely employee Alex Lapensee, and our three students have completed a very successful and productive summer. Their achievements amount to a major cleanup at Norm’s; significant trail clearing and maintenance; cutting, splitting, and piling of 70 cords of firewood; and lodge maintenance. Trail clearing work is continuing through the fall – I can personally vouch that the trails have never looked so good! More, Jamie Martin and local carpenter Richard Kargl have been undertaking numerous Lodge repairs that will continue through the next few weeks. Executive Assistant Nicolle Thompson has consolidated the AHC contacts database and coordinated several communications/publications pieces. Susan McCauley is currently working in the office on advertising and bookings. Now, with a little snow, we can promise you that Stokely will be back with major panache, and are confident that you will have a quality, top-notch experience this winter!

However, while we are all enjoying Stokely this winter and next, we must remember to keep the important option-to-purchase in our sights. In order to exercise this option, we must raise a total of $1.5 million through a combination of private, corporate, and, potentially, government sources. Currently, we have approximately $340,000 in private pledges, including Gaylen’s matching commitment. We also have approximately $300,000 of AHC funds which will be applied to this effort, so we are just shy of half way to our ultimate goal and need to continue to work very hard to ensure that we reach it. In that context, please feel free to circulate this newsletter and encourage others to help us. Any new pledges should be made via email to info@algomahighlandsconservancy.org . In the near future, we will be establishing a dedicated trust for donations towards the King Mountain property purchase. Once this is in place, we will be asking you to kindly honor any pledges that have already been made. While we have secured a 10-year trail-use agreement, it is still critical that we make this land purchase to guarantee our conservation, silent-sport recreation, outdoor education, and research objectives through the long-term.

We encourage you to email us any questions that you have and/or provide us with your full contact information, including e-mail, so that we can update our files and keep you better informed about new developments at Stokely. Please email your contact information to (info@algomahighlandsconservancy. org ) or, if you do not have access to email, please send the information to either our Canadian or American office address.

Together, we can all take pride in helping to allow Chuck Peterson’s legacy to live on!

Sincerely,

Doug Pitt, President
home: 705-649-1281
work: 705-541-5610
email: info@algomahighlandsconservancy.org

Steve Holmes, Vice-President
home: 705-949-9017
work: 705-541-5661
email: erin.steve@sympatico.ca