Resort wants to give out forest money
VAIL ” Adding a dollar onto her season pass price to help local forests was an easy choice for Karen Kern.
“Just one dollar?” the Singletree resident said as she left the Vail Village pass office. “If they had asked for $10, I would have given it to them.”
It seems many others share Kern’s sentiment. Vail Resorts’ new program with the National Forest Foundation has already raised over $100,000 for forest projects. The ski company and foundation expect to raise up to $600,000 by the time the winter is over.
The money raised at Vail and Beaver Creek will go to nonprofits for projects in the surrounding White River National Forest. Vail Resorts is urging local groups to start planning projects that will be eligible the grants.
Vail Resorts chief executive Rob Katz said he wants as much of the money as possible to go to local groups.
“If local groups want to apply, they need to start gearing up,” Katz said.
Grant applications will be accepted shortly after the New Year, and the grants could range from as small as $1,000 to as large as $50,000, Katz said.
The ski company and the forest foundation are looking for projects that focus on the health of forests, rivers or wildlife habitats. Improving trails could also be a good project, according to their guidelines.
Vail Resorts customers are asked to give a dollar for the program when they buy lift tickets or season passes or rent hotel rooms. The National Forest Foundation, a nonprofit group, is chipping in 50 cents for every dollar that Vail Resorts customers give.
Sharee Wettstein, who directs the Eagle County Youth Conservation Corps, said her group will apply for funding. The corps brings local youth groups into the forest to do projects and allows kids to earn money for their groups.
Through the group last year, 369 kids worked on 27 projects. The group’s $55,000 budget was funded by Eagle County.
“Anything above and beyond that means we work more and get more done in the forest,” she said.
Ken Neubecker, vice president of Colorado Trout Unlimited, also said his group would probably apply for money through the program. He was recently talking to a Forest Service official in the Roaring Fork Valley about the budget cuts the agency is facing, he said.
“The Forest Service needs all the help it can get,” he said.
Trout Unlimited has done projects to repair damage to riverbanks caused by farming and erosion, Neubecker said.
“We’re always looking for places to get money to do more work,” he said.
Don Dressler of the Forest Service said local nonprofits’ projects are important to the agency.
“They are a critical component of our summer fieldwork,” he said.
If your nonprofit is interested in applying for a Vail Resorts-National Forest Foundation grant, call the National Forest Foundation at 406-542-2805, ext. 12, or go to http://www.natlforests.org.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.