September 19, 2019

A Summer of Stewardship at Alta

Written by Adam Fehr

Building on Alta Ski Area’s heritage of conservation, the Alta Environmental Center (AEC) was created in 2008 to improve internal sustainability practices across departments; support research and collaboration with our external partners, and communicate progress with our skiers.

While summer is generally considered Alta Ski Area’s off-season, the AEC is in full swing—planning, coordinating, and organizing stewardship events. Working with summertime employees, partner organizations, Forest Service workers, and local volunteers, the AEC manages to build out an extensive stewardship events calendar. Here is a look back at all that went down this summer. 

The summer stewardship calendar recently concluded with the Alta Tree Planting Day, a one-of-a-kind experience deeply rooted in Alta history. Starting with reforestation efforts from the FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933, trees have been planted at Alta every summer.

  • 2019 Tree Planting Day by the numbers:
  • 100 plus volunteers
  • 1,000 Douglas fir saplings planted
  • 300 Englemann spruce saplings planted
  • 43,000 trees planted at Alta since 1994
  • 80-plus years of reforestation efforts

Efforts have ramped up considerably in the past few decades as over 43,000 trees have been planted on Alta’s slopes since 1994. 

Tree Harvesting and Tree Planting events are truly amazing. Seeds are harvested each spring and taken to local nurseries to grow in a safe environment. The seedlings grow for multiple years before being returned to their mountain homes as saplings. The seedlings, harvested from the high alpine environment, are specially designed by nature to survive the harsh winter conditions found between 9,500 and 10,500 feet above sea level.

This September, 100 volunteers spent a beautiful Saturday morning planting 1,300  Englemann spruce and Douglas-fir saplings on the slopes of Alta. After a quick breakfast and welcoming from Alta GM Mike Maughan and Alta Environmental Center Director Maura Olivos, volunteers made their way to the Patsey Marley and Catherine’s Pass areas via the Sunnyside lift. Tools and saplings were handed out, volunteers spread out across the rugged mountain terrain, holes were dug, and 1,300 saplings were given a new mountain home.

The Alta Tree Planting Day is one of the highlights of the Alta summer stewardship calendar. A special thank you to TreeUtahFriends of AltaCottonwoods Canyon Foundation and all of the amazing volunteers that make this annual event a success. 

The following are some of the other highlights from the Alta Environmental Center summer stewardship events calendar… 

Clean-Up Days

Kicking off with the LCC Cleanup Day in June, the Town of Alta Restoration Day in July, and concluding with the Alta Ski Area Clean-Up in August, hundreds of volunteers pitched in this summer to help keep the Town of Alta and Alta Ski Area the beautiful place we call came for. Hundreds of bags of trash were removed from the roads, parking lots, base areas, mountain creeks and ski runs.

The annual Alta Ski Area Clean-Up Day is always a huge hit with the skiing community. Alta skiers returned to the slopes in the first weekend of August to pick up trash and hunt for lost treasures. Descending almost 2,000 vertical feet from the top of Collins lift, volunteers scoured ski runs picking up items accidentally discarded by fellow skiers during the busy ski season.

Monthly Volunteer Days

Following 626″ of seasonal snowfall, summer started a little later than usual. Some of the most memorable events were the Monthly Volunteer Days. Working with Alta Community EnrichmentCottonwood Canyons FoundationFriends of Alta, and TreeUtah, upwards of 25 volunteers spent their Tuesday nights pulling weeds, planting wildflowers, transplanting willows and just generally getting their hands dirty.

After a couple of hours of hard work, the volunteers and staff were rewarded with a fun community party in the Alta Town Park. This was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and learn more about the wonderful Alta community.As we head into the quiet fall months, AEC stewardship events are winding down, but there will be plenty of great events this ski season. The Fresh Tracks Newsletter and Events Calendar are the best places to learn about Monthly Bird Surveys, the Tour With a Ranger program and more. Thanks again to all of the partner organizations, employees, and the hundreds of incredible volunteers that made this summer one of the best in recent memory. See you on the slopes this winter!