Save river through shopping |

Save river through shopping

Nicole Frey
Shane Macomber/Vail Daily Jeremy Samietiz of Wyoming checks out the latest boards in the Burton store at Vail. Burton at Vail, along with other Specialty Sports Venture shops in the valley, is asking shoppers to donate to the Eagle River Watershed Council. Specialty Sports will match 50 cents for every donated dollar.

AVON – Stepping into a Specialty Sports Ventures store this season, you’ll be asked it you’d like to help save the Eagle River. In keeping with an 8-year-old tradition, Specialty Sports Venture, which runs stores like Beaver Creek Sports and Vail Sports, has picked a nonprofit group for its Adopt a Cause program . This year, they chose the Eagle River Watershed Council.”There are so many nonprofits, and I think we liked that they were one of the few environmental groups,” said Chris Dixon with Specialty Sports. “We took into account what they do and who they touch.” Customers will be invited to donate money while shopping during the holiday season, whether its rounding a purchase up to the next dollar value or really digging deep. Specialty Sports Venture will then match an additional 50 cents for every dollar donated. “It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard of,” said Caroline Bradford, director of the watershed council. “I’m absolutely thrilled. We value the partnership with local businesses.”Competing against the Snowboard Outreach Society and Meet the Wilderness, the watershed council was selected by a blind vote, but Dixon said he thinks his colleagues appreciated that 85 percent of proceeds would go directly to environmental projects, as opposed to administrative costs or fundraising. Meet the Wilderness, a nonprofit that challenges and teaches children by exposing them to the outdoors, was the Adopt a Cause recipient the last two years, receiving $30,000 from Specialty Sports Ventures last year. “It’s the biggest check we’d ever gotten in our 31 years,” said Joe Schmitt, executive director of Meet the Wilderness. “It was over 12 percent of our budget.”Schmitt said he spread the money around his organization, plowing it into the rock climbing program, local wilderness trips and a trip to Colorado National Monument for fourth-graders from six Eagle County schools. “Nothing’s free, but we could make it cost a lot less than it’s supposed to,” Schmitt said. While Schmitt lamented not being picked for a third time, he said he believes in Bradford’s cause and encourages the giving.

“Just the fact that Specialty Sports is going out there and doing that – that’s just a really cool thing that they do,” he said. “It’s going to make our community better in some way.”Bradford already has plans for the money, which will be put into the watershed council’s Camp Hale project. The section of the Eagle River at Camp Hale, south of Minturn, was rerouted into a ditch when the land was converted into an army base. It’s the watershed council’s mission to return the river to its meandering path, which will improve the health of the river and the plants and animals that depend on it, Bradford said. “In the simple act of encouraging their customers to donate, that can add up and really make a difference,” Bradford said.

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or Vail, Colorado

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