News » Whistler

HIT wraps up season

Volunteer work crews expand focus to include aid project, Garibaldi Park



The Whistler-Blackcomb Habitat Improvement Team (HIT) wrapped up its 2005 season last week by planting new vegetation along the banks of the River of Golden Dreams.

It was the eighth project this year, bringing HIT’s total to 64 projects since 1997.

HIT is not political or activist in any way, but rather was created to give the community’s more energetic residents an opportunity to volunteer their time to work on environmental projects around the valley.

"It’s getting to be quite amazing, it seems that anywhere I go in the valley I come across an area that a HIT team has worked on over the years," said Arthur DeJong, the manager of mountain planning and environmental resources for Whistler-Blackcomb, and the HIT co-ordinator.

"We have made a lot of progress, although it might seem like a little at a time, but taken altogether it’s significant. Especially in some of the areas that we’ve focused on again and again, like the south shore of Lost Lake and the North West Passage trail – that was a logging road just a few years ago, and now it’s more like a trail."

This year HIT broadened its horizons slightly, spending two days putting together aid packages for a Whistler-Blackcomb program in Romania.

They also did some work on the lower part of the Singing Pass trail in Garibaldi Park, removing palettes and building rock crossings through the creeks. It was the first time that HIT has ventured into the park, but DeJong hopes to continue on with assisting B.C. Parks.

"(B.C. Parks) is our neighbour in this valley, it’s a well used park, and we have a vested interest in ensuring that the overall park experience remains something special," said DeJong.

Other projects for this season included a clean up and restoration of fallen trees on Green Lake, rebuilding water bars on the North West Passage, trail restoration in the Whistler Demonstration Forest, and adding woody debris and fish habitat to the River of Golden Dreams.

DeJong thanks all volunteers, 15 to 20 per HIT night, for contributing over 300 hours of their time this year. "The saying that many hands makes for light work really fits," he said. "You wouldn’t think that you could get much done in two or three hours, but with 15 people or so pitching in and working, not afraid to get a little dirty, things do come together quite quickly."

For next year, DeJong hopes to continue building relationships with local groups like the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, and taking suggestions for projects from the community.

This year they partnered with the Whistler-Blackcomb employee Environmental Fund, which helped to purchase plants for replanting riparian areas.

"We will supply the labour and expertise, but we need partnerships like the Environmental Fund to purchase the supplies and things we need for some of these projects," said DeJong.

HIT will return to work in June.