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Whistler/Blackcomb introduces HIT squad The Whistler community is about to face the HIT squad. The Habitat Improvement Team is a new community-based, action-oriented environmental team dedicated to improving wildlife habitat in Whistler. Co-ordinated by the Mountain Planning & Environmental Resources team at Whistler/Blackcomb, HIT will bring together volunteers and local stakeholder groups for evening work sessions. "This is not going to be glamorous work," says Arthur DeJong, Mountain Planning & Environmental Resources manager for Whistler/Blackcomb and the head HIT man. " But hopefully it will help integrate community environmental groups and get people working shoulder to shoulder." Six Tuesday evening work parties are planned, starting Aug. 4 and running every second week to Oct. 13. Each evening will be dedicated to a different initiative, as directed by a local environmental group. The Whistler Fish Stewardship Group, for instance, has suggested debris cleanup of Millar Creek and Upper Crabapple Creek. Other environmentally focused organizations or sites expected to take part include the municipality, the Whistler Interpretive Forest, the Jennifer Jones/Whistler Bear Task Team, AWARE, and Whistler/Blackcomb. The Tuesday evening sessions will be limited to three hours and include refreshments following the work, as well as a brief discussion about environmental stewardship and how the evening’s work is to be done. DeJong recognizes that for some people who work outside all the time, volunteering for HIT may not sound so attractive. "But for people with an environmental passion who work at a desk all day, this is a chance to actually get some things done." The idea is to encourage people to take ownership, to make a commitment to the place they live — to take the time to pick up a piece of litter when they come upon it, DeJong says. "We as a community are accountable to the entire resort," he says. "I hope this will help build community relationships. "Our resort can be the best in the world, but environmental conservation is a cornerstone to that. We can only be the best if we integrate these things." Everyone is welcome to help with the first evening’s work, on Aug. 4, but volunteers are asked to call in advance (938-7220) so organizers have an idea how many people will be coming to help out. Whistler/Blackcomb will co-ordinate tools and resources required.

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