A decision is expected to be made today on the fate of the reconstructed Eagle Pass Summit fire lookout.
Sicamous resident Rene St. Onge, one of the individuals who spearheaded the effort to rebuild a cabin on the site of the historic fire lookout, was scheduled to meet with Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations representatives at their Vernon office Wednesday morning, May 8.
St. Onge is anticipating the ministry will make a decision based on recommendations from an investigation to determine whether rebuilding the structure was a violation of the Forest Range and Practices Act. He said investigators are recommending fines of $10,000 or more, and remediation of the cabin, which he interprets as tearing it down.
The investigation began after volunteers spent more than $40,000 in personal and donated money, time and materials to rebuild the lookout. St. Onge said the 2016 reconstruction effort began after an earlier meeting with a FrontCounter BC manager, who explained, “If you’re building a new cabin or road or trail, you need to do an application, but he said this is existing, if you want to clean it up and put the roof back on – awesome.”
Upon learning of the cabin’s reconstruction at a Shuswap trails strategy meeting, representatives of Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. (part of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) indicated it could be torn down as the work had been conducted without the appropriate permits.
News of the ministry’s investigation sparked political support from the Splatsin First Nation, Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo and the District of Sicamous.
“That project was taken on the shoulders of a few people and they went forward with it and rebuilt it and, from my perspective, that’s going to be a huge asset for the entire region, because people will probably come from all over the world to take a hike up into there or find a way to get there,” commented Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz.