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HIT team not afraid to get dirty

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Group takes on habitat improvement projects around the valley

Whether it’s battling erosion on local bike trails, or wading through mud to restore wetlands, no job is too big or too dirty for Whistler’s Habitat Improvement Team.

Sponsored by Whistler-Blackcomb, the HIT team has taken on more than 40 habitat projects in the community over the last five years. The HIT philosophy is no process, no debate and no meetings.

"We’re a get out there and take action group," says Arthur DeJong, HIT team co-ordinator and manager of mountain planning and mountain resources for Whistler-Blackcomb. "We’re getting out there are doing those things that need doing one project at a time, improving habitat and wetlands."

The group gets anywhere from 15 to 20 volunteers out on any given night. At the first HIT event of the year on June 3, 20 volunteers cleaned up Scotia Creek on the West shore of Alta Lake.

On June 17, HIT will do some seeding around the water bars on the Northwest Passage bike route.

On July 8, the team will be building ba fish ladder on the River of Golden Dreams.

On July 22, the team is slated to do some trail work in the Whistler Interpretive Forest.

The August dates are the most popular, as the group does in-stream work with the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group.

The group will also take suggestions for projects on other nights.

"As we work through the summer, we are open for more projects and more volunteers," said DeJong.

The group meets at the base of Blackcomb at 5:45 p.m. every second Tuesday. Whistler-Blackcomb provides the trucks, tools and materials required for every project. All volunteers have to do is show up in their old clothes, prepared to do a little work in the environment. Other items to bring include sunscreen, gloves, rugged footwear, and a long-sleeved shirt or jacket.

After a few hours, the group heads to either Merlin’s or the GLC for an apres party, which DeJong says is a big part of the reason so many volunteers keep coming back, project after project.

To get involved, meet the crew at the base of Blackcomb on a HIT night. More dates will be posted as they become available.

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