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Update on Stokely Creek

Thu, Feb  14, 2008 - By Doug Pitt and Gaylen Byker

As a follow-up to our November 14 newsletter, the partnership that we’ve forged with Astina Establishments is now finalized and the 2008 ski season is now in full swing!!! To recap, the legal agreements that we’ve signed provide us with a 10-year licence for exclusive use of the entire Stokely trail system for silent sport recreation and a 2-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). AHC Board member Gaylen Byker, his wife Susan, daughter Tanya, and son-in-law Ian Phair have purchased and are operating the Lodge under the name “Stokely Creek Lodge”!

The open house held at Stokely on December 29 ffered many folks an excellent opportunity to meet all of the partners involved and enjoy a great day of skiing. If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to come out and enjoy the trails, we invite you to do so.

At the open house, we answered a number of questions that prompted us to update the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet that we put out last May. Clearly, much has happened since then, and new questions have emerged!

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

1) Now that the Lodge is under new ownership and the trail system is secured under licence, why is it necessary to spend $1.5 M to purchase the 2600 ac around King Mountain?

Ownership of the land surrounding the Stokely Creek Lodge is important for a number of reasons. First, despite the best intentions of the three parties involved in the trail licence, only ownership of a significant land base around the Lodge will guarantee its long-term sustainability in the event of unforeseen changes in land management priorities.

Second, the King Mountain area supports sensitive ecosystems that would be very difficult and expensive to subject to sustainable harvesting operations. These sensitive ecosystems include steep slopes, shallow soils, and provincially rare plants such as Braun’s holly fern (Polystichum braunii), oval-leaved bilberry (Vaccinium ovalifolium), and northern wild licorice (Galium kamtschaticum). Protecting this area as an island surrounded by land subjected to sound, sustainable forest management is simply good conservation. Coupled with our Robertson Cliffs property, this new ownership will also guarantee a solid, protected, 3000-ac land base for the AHC to use as a platform for conservation, silent-sport recreation, outdoor education, and research - in perpetuity.

2) What is the AHC’s current financial status and prospects for outside funding?

This past summer, we received approximately $170 K in pledges towards the land purchase. Since November 14, folks have been honouring these pledges and our Executive Assistant, Nicolle Thompson, has been close to overwhelmed processing donations and returning acknowledgements and tax receipts. As we have reported in our previous newsletters, Gaylen Byker has generously offered to match all private donations. The AHC can apply approximately $300 K of Chuck Peterson’s bequest to the land purchase and, thus, we may consider ourselves near the $650 K mark. This is a good start, but we clearly have a significant distance to our goal!

3) Will all donated funds be applied to the land purchase?

Yes. Our Board will commit all onations during the October 2007 to October 2009 period directly to the land purchase. Clearly, we will incur fundraising and operational costs during this period - the AHC has earmarked a portion of Chuck’s bequest to cover these costs. We are also pursuing sources such as the Trillium foundation for assistance. Once we make the land purchase, our fundraising efforts will then gear down to cover the costs of maintaining this landbase (e.g., insurance and taxes) – until our next project, of course!

4) What happens if the Lodge eventually closes?

The Byker-Phair’s hope to make the Stokely Creek Lodge a long-term, sustainable operation on a break-even basis. As we all know, however, there are never guarantees in life. Should the Lodge close its doors, the AHC will continue to retain the trail licence and ownership of any lands purchased. Thus, the landbase would continue to be available for conservation, silent-sport recreation, outdoor education, and research.

5) If I donate to the AHC, do I still need to purchase a trail pass?

Yes. Trail grooming and maintenance represents a significant operational cost to the Lodge that must be recovered through the sale of trail passes and lodging income. As stated in 4) above, your donation will go directly to the land purchase and will not be used to offset these costs. All AHC Board members pay full price for trail passes and Ski Club memberships!

6) Can I donate stock to the AHC?

Yes, your donation can be made in the form of stock. You will receive a tax receipt for the market value of the stock at the time it changes hands. If you're interested in this option, please contact our treasurer, Karen Streich at 705-649-2780, for details.

7) Can I donate using a credit card?

Currently, the only way that we can accept credit card donations is via the “Donate Now Button” on our website
(www.algomahighlandsconservancy.org). Note that charges to your cards will be in US funds.

We hope that we have answered any questions you may have. If not, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@algomahighlandsconservancy.org. We also appreciate any suggestions or ideas you may have to offer. Thank you in advance for your continuing support. Together, we're making a difference – come out to Stokely and see!

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