Comfor contributes $20,000

The Burns Lake Community Forest (Comfor) donated $20,000 to the Lakes Outdoor Recreation Society (LORS) last week.

Rosanne Murray a Comfor board member presents a cheque to Lynn Synotte president of Lors. Also in the picture from Lors board is Herb Neville

Rosanne Murray a Comfor board member presents a cheque to Lynn Synotte president of Lors. Also in the picture from Lors board is Herb Neville

The Burns Lake Community Forest (Comfor) donated $20,000 to the Lakes Outdoor Recreation Society (LORS) last week, the final installment of their 2012 commitment to the region’s trails, recreation sites and provincial parks.

The Comfor board also voted to continue with administrative duties as approved in the past.

In a 2011 decision the Comfor board had voted to provide Lors with up to $40,000 per year until 2013 with the caveat that Lors would receive this money only if their fund-raising efforts were unsuccessful.  They also continued their support of Lors by approving Comfor staff time for coordination, and other administrative duties until the end of the contract year in September of 2012.

The Lors board was able to raise $21,500 this year from other sources and had previously received $20,000 from Comfor.  Last week they applied to request the remaining $9,423 anticipated expenses remaining to finish off the year.

It was stated that, due to Comfor’s recent restructuring, the Comfor board wished to review their operations and finances before committing to the promised Lors assistance for 2013.

“We are very grateful for the support Comfor has provided since 2002, both financial and in-kind,” says Lynn Synotte, Lors president. “But we are very concerned about the future of this region’s Recreation Sites, Trails and Parks.”

Synotte went on to explain that funding sources that sponsor on-going maintenance projects are dwindling and it has been a struggle to find dollars to support the maintenance of the 27 Recreation sites, seven trails and two parks. The society needs approximately $50,000 a year to finance the projects.

The province continues to support the sites and trails with some funds, supplies, monitoring and administrative support but face very restricted budgets.  The Bulkley Valley Regional District Area B and Area E donated $6,000 grant-in-aid this year but these funds are not for on-going projects.

The recreation site program was instituted many years ago for fire prevention and environmental protection by encouraging people to camp and light fires in designated areas.

In 2002 the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource,  were decommissioning recreation sites and provincial parks in this area.  A large meeting of concerned community stakeholders met in June of 2002 and, although the off-loading of these responsibilities was a hot topic, it was a done deal.

After this meeting, Lors was formed to take over the maintenance of these areas. These sites impact a large area and create economic opportunities, tourism and a healthy lifestyle for our community. Today, Lors employs two contractors and has six volunteer board members.

The Lors board will meet with representatives from the Nadina/ Skeena Recreation District in September to decide the future of the local sites.

“We have one year left on our contract with the province and everything’s on the table, from whether we will continue to take on this responsibility and, if so, where will the funding come from?”

But, she notes, “I honestly don’t know how long we can continue to operate like this. “

One of the recreational sites is Kager Lake, which alone had 1,400 visitors in the month of June.