Vail Valley groups are committed to stewardship | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley groups are committed to stewardship

Melissa Macdonald and Kara Heide
My Echo Story
Vail, CO Colorado

Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: This column, submitted by Vail Resorts, showcases the nonprofits that the company supports through its Vail Resorts Echo program.

EAGLE COUNTY – Our land and water are the most precious resources we have here in our mountain community. Our land and water supply multiple benefits, including the outdoor recreational opportunities we all enjoy, and are worthy of protection and conservation. The local protectors and defenders of our water and land are the Eagle River Watershed Council and the Eagle Valley Land Trust.

The Eagle River Watershed Council preserves, conserves and enhances our rivers for people and wildlife using projects, science and community education. We undertake many river projects annually, and volunteers make a huge contribution to restoring and protecting our environment. Last year Vail Resorts Echo volunteers contributed approximately 650 hours planting, watering, mulching, and beaver caging more than 400 trees, bushes and shrubs at our Edwards Eagle River restoration project – a contribution valued at more than $14,000.

At the Land Trust, we preserve the character of our community one acre at a time by conserving the special places that people love in Eagle County. By using conservation easements to protect and save our land, we preserve scenic views, precious landscapes, historic lands, open spaces, waterways and wildlife habitats for the benefit of the people of our community.

The Land Trust and the Watershed Council are proud to have Vail Resorts Echo as our partner in environmental conservation and stewardship. The Echo program strongly supports our organizational missions by providing financial assistance to our programs, volunteer hours for our projects and community leadership in environmental protection. The Echo commitment to our local environment is unparalleled.

Their commitment manifested itself earlier this month on Sept. 8, when over 250 Vail Resorts employees and their families descended upon the Eagle River Preserve conservation easement and the neighboring 1.6 mile Edwards Eagle River Restoration Project for their 2012 Echo Day. Echo Day is a company-wide volunteer day at Vail Resorts where company employees team up with local nonprofit groups to accomplish needed projects.

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This year, together, we completed the Eagle River Restoration Project by planting more than 300 trees and shrubs over 800 linear feet of Eagle River bank in Edwards using a drought resistant, Australian-developed “long stem planting technique,” inserting most of the plant into the ground. The vegetation will require little water and provide root structure to hold sloughing banks that have been denuded by cattle grazing and urbanization, a source of sediment pollution to the river. Mature vegetation will provide shade to cool the river for improved fish habitat and provide shelter for small terrestrial animals and birds. And we completed trail enhancements and built new trails at the publicly accessible Eagle River Preserve, a 72-acre conservation area that serves as a “central park” for our mid-valley community.

We thank Vail Resorts Echo for their on-going commitment to our land and our water.

Melissa Macdonald is the executive director of the Eagle River Watershed Council and can be reached at macdonald@erwc.org. Kara Heide is the executive director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust and can be reached at kara@evlt.org. Through Vail Resorts Echo, Vail Resorts hopes to connect its communities to its efforts – from on the ground conservation programs to grants for local schools. Aimed at both protecting the natural resources that surround the resorts and helping build stronger communities where its employees live and work, Vail Resorts Echo encompasses three core efforts: environmental stewardship, charitable giving and community engagement. Learn more at http://www.vailresortsecho.com.