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Saved by the HIT team

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The Habitat Improvement Team helps one ecosystem at a time

Since the summer of 1998, the Whistler-Blackcomb Habitat Improvement Team (HIT) has jumped into the practice of restoring local wilderness with both feet, getting more than a little muddy in the process.

While the boot tracks through the kitchen are temporary, HIT is having a lasting effect on local ecology by adding people power, horsepower and expertise to every project.

"We provide the supplies, the equipment, the trucks and so forth and we invite our own staff and anyone from the community to go out and do habitat improvement work," explains Arthur DeJong, the Mountain Planning and Environmental Resource Manager for Whistler-Blackcomb.

This year HIT is already back in action with volunteers helping to clean up the Snowflake Park watershed in Whistler Cay, in partnership with the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, on June 11. This was the first of four projects with the WFSG on the HIT calendar for this year.

"The projects are focused on stewardship needs in the valley, not the mountain," says DeJong. "We work with the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, the RMOW, in the Whistler Interpretive forest, with AWARE, WORCA – saying what can we do to help improve the habitat in your yard, which is ultimately the community’s yard."

Activities include tree planting, trail maintenance, fish habitat restoration and stream work, site clean-ups, and a variety of other special projects. This year HIT will also contribute to projects in Pemberton at One Mile Lake and Rock Creek.

Depending on the project and the amount of promotion, HIT has put as many as 30 people on a project. Between 15 and 18 core volunteers turn out most weeks, but newcomers are always welcome.

"It’s anything but glamorous, it’s grunt work, but it’s a reflection of our community’s commitment to the environment. I’m always very touched by how much people are willing to, and desiring to, get out and do something to benefit the environment," DeJong says.

"It’s also very social, and there’s a really diverse cross section of community participants."

HIT gets together every second Tuesday, meeting at the base of Blackcomb Mountain at 5:45 p.m., until Sept. 17. There will also be a special streamkeepers weekend Aug. 10-11 with the WFSG.

The next HIT project is scheduled for June 25.

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