Upper Homestake Creek targeted in early efforts
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — After tackling forest rehabilitation in the Hayman Burn area last year, Vail Resorts is contributing $200,000 this spring to help jumpstart a large-scale collaborative restoration and enhancement of national forest lands in the Vail and Eagle River valleys.
In partnership with the National Forest Foundation, work will begin along the Upper Homestake Creek area in the Upper Eagle River Valley.
“We will repair trails and bridges, rehabilitate campsites that are affecting conditions along the creek, improve fish habitat, cut hazard trees infested by mountain pine beetle, and plant trees in campgrounds to get a jumpstart on the future forest,” said Eagle District Ranger Dave Neely.
All of the work will be accomplished with support from partner organizations including the Eagle River Watershed Council, Student Conservation Association, Eagle County Youth Corps, with support from the foundation’s ski conservation fund and Vail Resorts’ Echo program.
The Homestake Creek work is part of a larger collaborative initiative designed to support large-scale restoration and enhancement efforts of National Forest lands in the Vail and Eagle River valleys, according to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service. The initiative is aimed at prioritizing and implement projects that restore local forest health in a more integrated fashion.This will be accomplished by bringing nonprofit partners, community members, stakeholders and the Forest Service together over the course of this spring to discuss and collaboratively develop an integrated work plan.
“The Eagle/Holy Cross District faces a wonderful challenge for the Forest Service in that the number and variety of existing partner groups is so great in this area, and the public interest and general support for the Forest is so broad,” said National Forest Foundation vice president Mary Mitsos. “The NFF is excited to support a strategy that helps the District coordinate all our various partners and all the vital forest and watershed work there is to be done out there.”
The foundation’s ski conservation fund raises money through voluntary contributions from guests at participating ski resorts throughout the country. During the last four years, the program has raised over $3.5 million including guest donations and a match by the foundation. These funds are always been invested in on-the-ground projects completed by local nonprofit organizations.
“Each year, Vail Resorts and NFF are able to raise almost $500,000 for important forest health projects on the White River National Forest. With the new collaborative initiative and planning process, Vail Resorts Echo will be able to help fund critical projects within the comprehensive plan that will have a direct benefit to preserving the iconic settings we call home,” said Beth Ganz, vice-president of public affairs and sustainability at Vail Resorts.
Working with a facilitator hired by NFF, the Forest Service is planning to launch this effort in the next few months.
“This District has a long and successful history of working with partners to accomplish important resource work on the forest. We want to build on that success,” said Neely. “In partnership with the National Forest Foundation we’re designing an improved process to build on that success and make a real difference on lands and communities we all care about in the long-term.”