Skier dollars fund forest work
VAIL ” A dollar at a time, Eagle County skiers gave money for forest project this year.
Those dollars have found their way to local groups with plans to maintain trails and do other projects in the national forest.
The program ” a joint effort between Vail Resorts and the National Forest Foundation ” gave out $225,815 to seven local nonprofits earlier this month.
“It’s a good shot in the arm for the program,” said Sharee Wettstein of the Eagle County Youth Conservation Corps, which received a $30,000 grant.
People who bought season passes, lift tickets or hotel rooms from Vail Resorts this year could elect to give $1 for forest projects. The National Forest Foundation chipped in 50 cents for every dollar that guests gave.
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The projects will be done across the White River National Forest, which includes parts of Eagle, Summit and Pitkin counties.
Local youth groups raise money by doing conservation projects through the Eagle County Youth Conservation Corps. The grant will allow the group to do more work on national forest land, which makes up the majority of Eagle County, Wettstein said.
The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative will do trail work on four fourteeners with the grant, including Eagle County’s Mount of the Holy Cross, said Executive Director T.J. Rapaport.
“We would have fallen short” without the money, Rapaport said. “We would have turned people away.”
The group is looking for more volunteers at Holy Cross this summer, Rapaport said, adding that local residents can get information about volunteering at http://www.14ers.org.
The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, based in Steamboat Springs, will do projects in Eagle and Summit counties with the money it received from the program, said Brandon Warren, logistics manager.
“This is huge for our organization,” he said.
The group employs people between the ages of 16 and 25 to do programs across western Colorado, Warren said.
The corps relies on grants from government agencies, but recent budget woes have threatened those funds, Warren said.
By this fall, Vail Resorts and the National Forest Foundation expect to have raised $600,000 for local nonprofits through the program. The rest of the money will be given away as grants.
Vail Resorts will continue the program next year, spokeswoman Kelly Burgdorf said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or email@example.com.