Know Your Valley series takes a closer look at home |

Know Your Valley series takes a closer look at home

Daily Staff Report

What acoustics does our local wildlife tune into? How are our slopes kept in pristine condition? What factors contribute to avalanche danger in our area? How does our winter snowpack affect our spring and summer water resources? What’s it like to drive a Snowcat from dusk to dawn? And who makes those delicious cookies for Beaver Creek?

The Vail Symposium’s “Know Your Valley” series aims to answer these questions and more to inspire learning about our local community and environment. Presented with Gore Range Natural Science School, the series spotlights issues and topics that are unique to the Vail Valley.

This season’s series looks at several aspects of our the winter wonderland. Two ski tour and two snowshoe programs will happen every other Tuesday, starting this Tuesday and continuing Feb. 13, Feb. 27 and March 13.

The series kicks off with a behind-the-scenes ski tour of Vail Mountain. Vail boasts four terrain parks, seven bowls and 5,289 acres of free-ride terrain. Meet the experts and managers, the cast and crew, of the largest ski resort in the United States ” from lift operators to ski patrol, from snow makers to groomers. Learn how the resort operates, including transporting food and supplies, building terrain parks, and managing public safety. This day-long program requires intermediate-level ski ability.

On Feb. 13, snow hydrologist Dr. Mark Williams will lead a snowshoe hike to teach about snow conditions in the field. Participants will dig snow pits to look at properties of snow and avalanche conditions. He will also discuss alpine hydrochemistry and factors affecting snow fall and snow pack. Williams was the 2006 recipient of the academic teaching award at CU Boulder and is an extremely sought-after speaker. He is a professor in geography and a fellow at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, at the University of Colorado. Williams is currently writing “The Book of Snow” and was one of the leads on the city of Aspen’s Canary Initiative.

On Tuesday, Know Your Valley puts the spotlight on Beaver Creek. It’s another behind-the-scenes interactive tour ” this time of the workings of Beaver Creek Mountain. Learn how the resort is maintained ” from grooming terrain, to offering fresh hot cookies, to managing snow conditions. Various stops (indoor and outdoor) will be made throughout the day.

Many visitors to parks and other natural areas are not fully aware of the rich variety of sounds in the wilderness. On march 13, Frank Turina, natural resource planner for the National Park Service and Natural Sounds Program, will lead an ear-opening hike to make participants tune into the sounds of their surroundings. He will talk about the acoustics of the natural world as well as noise in our communities, and highlight efforts to protect natural sounds.

On the hike, participants will engage in a technologically-enhanced listening exercise, designed to increase sensitivity to the natural soundscape and identify sources of noise that affect the valley.

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