Skiers trade planks for shovels 

CAST plants trees in Banff National Park

Two winters ago, the organizers of the World Cup at Lake Louise were forced to remove a stand of 120 small trees to bring the women’s downhill course into line with the Federation Internationale de Ski’s safety requirements. Because Lake Louise falls within the boundaries of Banff National Park, the decision to allow the cut went right to the federal Heritage Ministry, which oversees the national park system.

Now, to pay back Banff National Park for the concession, members of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team have joined with the World Cup organizers, local school children, and the Lake Louise ski resort to plant 16,000 trees in the park – the largest reforestation project in the park’s history.

"When we removed a small amount of trees two years ago to ensure the safety of World Cup racers at Lake Louise, we committed to replacing them at least tenfold," said Alpine Canada Alpin President Ken Read. "Canada’s racers and the ski community are undertaking the largest reforestation project ever in Banff National Park to help create a better, even more spectacular environment for wildlife and visitors."

None of the reforestation sites fall within the boundaries of the ski resort, but in a wide variety of areas identified by Parks Canada. These sites include the abandoned construction camps left over from the building of the Trans-Canada Highway and tree cuts on the side of the road to Upper lake Louise where natural screening is required to protect bears roaming the area.

Even the local soccer field will be surrounded by the new trees, which are specially selected pines that are native to the area. All costs will be assumed by the skiing community.

The Winterstart World Cup Organizaing Committee and Alpine Canada will plant 6,600 trees over the next week, and Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, which owns the Lake Louise ski area, will add at least 8,800 more, of which a portion are part of an earlier commitment made when a ski lift was replaced three years ago.

National team skiers Thomas Grandi, Anna Prchal and Emily Brydon will be planting trees alongside staff and students from Banff Elementary School and professional planters.

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