HIT Team 

Environmental group tackles projects on the ground

If you don’t mind getting a little dirty and are the kind of environmentalist who likes to see results, the Whistler-Blackcomb Habitat Improvement Team is getting ready to start its 2006 program.

Since 1997 HIT has tackled 64 projects in the valley, with an average of 15 to 20 volunteers coming out each night to spend up to three hours on each project. The range of HIT work includes everything from trail maintenance to wetlands restoration to the cleanup of sensitive areas.

Projects are usually undertaken in cooperation with local environmental groups, including the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, AWARE, and Whistler Naturalists, among others, although they do take suggestions from the community.

This year there are eight projects on the calendar, with workers meeting outside of Merlin’s every second Tuesday from June 6 to Sept. 5 at 5:45 p.m. Everyone is invited to come out and help HIT improve the local environment.

"I really believe that volunteerism defines a community, so it’s wonderful to see the number of people who show up year after year to provide the muscle behind our HIT projects," said Arthur DeJong, Whistler-Blackcomb’s mountain planning and environmental resource manager, as well as a founder of HIT.

Projects for 2006 include:

June 6 – Sorting clothing, other goods to be sent to an economically-depressed region of Romania as part of a Whistler-Blackcomb and Rotary International-sponsored aid project.

June 20 – Rebuild water bars and seeding for the Northwest Passage. "The trails needs some annual maintenance, but this is also a great project because we get to see the result of past work on the trail," said DeJong. "We want to see this trail used more, and with the Bike Park it’s already getting more riders who use it to head to Creekside."

July 4 – Pemberton project, to be announced.

July 18 – Trail restoration on Lower Singing Pass. Volunteers will remove palettes from water bars while seeding the edges to narrow the trail.

Aug. 1 – Building a Western Toad passage at Lost Lake to protect young frogs from being trampled by hikers and bikers. The toads are yellow listed in the province, which means they are a species of conservation concern.

Aug. 15 – Riparian planting along the River of Golden Dreams with the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group.

Aug. 29 – Volunteers will help to plant 700 white bark pine in the alpine as part of a Whistler Naturalists project to save the trees from an alien species of blister rust.

Sept. 5 – Building a fish fence along Blackcomb Creek near where it connects with Fitzsimmons Creek at the entrance to Lost Lake Park.

Volunteers should bring food, appropriate clothing and water, and come prepared on most days to work outside.

For more information contact Arthur DeJong at 604-938-7080.

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