HIT back on the job 

Habitat Improvement Team not afraid to get dirty

By Andrew Mitchell

Local environmentalists can put their old clothes and shoes where their mouths are this summer as the Whistler-Blackcomb Habitat Improvement Team (HIT) gets back to work on environmental projects.

This is the 10 th anniversary since HIT was created, and to date volunteers have donated 72 Tuesday evenings to projects as diverse as wetlands restoration, trail maintenance and hanging bird houses. Sometimes the projects are done in partnership with other local groups, like the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group and Whistler Naturalists. An average of 15 volunteers turn out for each project, spending about three hours.

HIT has already completed the first of eight projects slated for 2007, with the June 12 clean-up of the Northwest Passage Trail that connects Whistler Creekside to Whistler Village.

The next project, slated for June 26, is in the Whistler Interpretive Forest, across the highway from Function Junction. Crews will clear encroaching brush and perform erosion control on the trails used by hikers, bikers and runners.

Other projects planned for this year include:

• July 10 – Romanian Aid project with the Whistler Rotary Club, packaging roughly 4,000 winter clothing items donated by Whistler-Blackcomb, as well as computers, books and medical supplies. The items will be shipped to a mountainous area of Romania that is among the poorest regions in all of Europe.

• July 24 – B.C. Parks trail maintenance on Singing Pass Trail. The work will focus on erosion control, garbage clean-up and clearing overgrowth.

• Aug. 7 – Pemberton project, to be announced.

• Aug. 21 – In-stream work in Crabapple Creek, placing root wads, logs and boulders in the stream to improve fish spawning habitat for Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon.

• Sept. 4 – Riparian planting of native species on Crabapple Creek to protect, shade and feed the creek.

• Sept. 18 – Riparian planting for bank stabilization on the River of Golden Dreams to reduce erosion.

If you can spare a few hours, HIT meets every second Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. outside of Merlin’s at the base of Blackcomb, and leaves by 6 p.m. for the project site. All equipment and supplies are provided and Whistler-Blackcomb provides trucks, water and transportation. Volunteers are also welcome to go directly to the work site to meet the crew.

All work is wrapped up by 9 p.m., before heading back to Merlin’s for refreshments and socializing.

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