As Whistler-Blackcomb grinds into ski season gear summer projects have wrapped up. One of those to come to a close as the snow started to fly was operation green-up, a $1.5 million project spread over five years. This year saw $70,000 spent on seed and fertilizer and 9,000 bales of hay spread over the 36-hectare Crystal Zone on Blackcomb. The goal, said the mountain’s planning and environmental manager, Arthur DeJong, is to dramatically improve watersheds throughout the ski area by reducing sedimentation into streams, which in turn affects fish habitat. "It’s basically erosion control. We are trying to keep the soils where they belong and grow a strong bed of vegetation," said DeJong. The spin-off, he said, is the runs generate an increase in food supply for game like bears and deer. Operation green-up kicked off last spring. The Crystal area was first on the books because of its ecologically sensitive nature. It borders a watershed that also supplies community drinking water and runs into parkland. What goes on in the area has an impact on fish habitat in Blackcomb Creek. Next year the Whistler Creek watershed will get attention with re-seeding of old runs that do not have a rich grass cover. "We are dealing with trail designs of the past," said DeJong. "Today, if we had to do it over, there is no way we would have built them in the same way. So, it’s fixing older areas that need attention." DeJong said he is facilitating the project and working closely with the Ministry of Environment. "It’s a supportive partnership. They do annual assessments of our watersheds. We also work closely with the Whistler Fish Stewardship Group and the Whistler Angling Club with stewardship endeavours downstream."