The National Forest Foundation’s White River National Forest Ski Conservation Fund celebrates its 12th year by granting $675,000 for on-the-ground conservation projects.

This summer the White River National Forest is buzzing from activity – and not just from the thousands of visitors enjoying world-class trails, campgrounds and waterways. Youth conservation corps, local volunteers, and nonprofit partners are working hard to steward and maintain the health of the White River National Forest. From the obliteration of noxious weeds around Vail, to stream enhancements in the Blue River Watershed, and trail work at Tenderfoot Mountain, many hands are caring for these beloved public lands.

This important work will be made possible because of support from the White River National Forest Ski Conservation Fund – a wonderful collaboration between all of the ski areas in Summit and Eagle County, the White River National Forest and National Forest Foundation (NFF).

The White River National Forest Ski Conservation Fund began twelve years ago as a partnership between the NFF and all of Vail Resorts’ Colorado mountains – Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, and Vail – as well as Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin. The successful partnership has resulted in over $6.6 million in grants to local non-profit organizations for on-the-ground conservation projects on the White River National Forest.

Through the Ski Conservation Fund, patrons of these resorts are able to donate a dollar or more to the National Forest Foundation when purchasing online tickets, season passes or staying at their lodges. The National Forest Foundation provides a 50-cent match on every dollar donated by guests and invests the pooled funds in the stewardship of the White River National Forest through grants to local nonprofits. Grant recipients leverage projects further by bringing additional resources, such as volunteers and matching funds, to accomplish even more on-the-ground work.

Photo by Johnathan Valdez

Using funds in 2018, a crew sprays for invasive weeds on the White River National Forest.

In 2019, this partnership is granting approximately $675,450 to support fourteen projects on the White River National Forest that will enhance outdoor experiences and forest health. In addition to the grants, local nonprofit partners participating in projects are contributing $1.1 million in additional cash and/or in-kind value to the fourteen projects.

2019 White River Ski Conservation Fund projects:

  • Colorado Mountain Club - Flat Tops Wilderness Trail Maintenance and Volunteer Project
  • Eagle River Watershed Council - Upper Piney River Watershed Restoration
  • Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness - 2019 Infestation Management Project: Suppression of Noxious Weeds in Three Wilderness Areas
  • Friends of the Dillon Ranger District - 2019 Forest Stewards Program and the Tenderfoot Trail System Improvements
  • Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers - 2019 Volunteer Projects
  • Rocky Mountain Youth Corps – Colorado - Empowering Future Leaders through Service Partnerships (trail work and other projects on the Dillon and Eagle Holy Cross Ranger Districts)
  • The Greenlands Reserve - Ecological Enhancement of Community Wildfire Breaks and Campgrounds on the White River National Forest
  • Vail Valley Mountain Bike Association - Eagle County Adopt a Trail Program and North Trail Restoration
  • Walking Mountains Science Center - Natural Resource Internship and Community Conservation Program
  • Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado - White River National Forest Volunteer Stewardship Investments
  • Wilderness Workshop - Habitat Restoration Program
  • Wildlands Restoration Volunteers - Hippo Trail Community Reroute Project
  • Mesa Youth Services, Inc. - East Zone Invasive Plant Control, Year 2
  • Summit County - 2019 East Zone Invasive Plant Control

In addition to the competitive grant round, with support from Vail Resorts, the NFF will invest $130,000 in high priority, strategic projects on the White River National Forest in 2019. For example, the funding will support targeted road and trail restoration in the Indiana Gulch area with the goal of improving wildlife habitat and stream health. These investments will also support the completion of the Tenderfoot Mountain Trail System near Dillon and treatment of noxious weeds in Eagle and Summit Counties over the next three years. The strategic projects provide a way for Vail Resorts, the National Forest Foundation and White River National Forest to strengthen the partnership and ensure priorities are met each year.

Our Vail Resorts employees and guests, as well as the teams at Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, and Beaver Creek, are incredibly proud to be able to support projects with such visible impacts on the White River National Forest. Not only do these projects tangibly benefit the health and sustainability of our local Forest, this funding fills a gap that would otherwise go unaddressed.

Fritz Bratschie, Regional Environmental Sustainability Senior Manager, Vail Resorts

“For more than ten years, our partnership with NFF and the local ski industry has helped us connect with our communities and provide excellent service to the public. We look forward to expanding these opportunities to restore and sustain our National Forests for future generations,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor of the White River National Forest.

“The National Forest Foundation is thrilled to invest in seventeen conservation projects in 2019 through the White River National Forest Ski Conservation Fund. Thanks to our great partnership with Vail Resorts, Copper Mountain, and Arapahoe Basin, key local organizations are helping to steward the beloved White River National Forest,” said Mary Mitsos, NFF President & CEO.

Click here to learn about the current and past White River Ski Conservation Fund awards.

National Forest Foundation