Environmental grants awarded

Ski and Resort Corp. gives $40,000 to nonprofit organizations

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Ski Corp. grants

Yampatika, $14,000

Yampa Valley Stream Improvement, $10,000

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, $9,515

City of Steamboat Springs, $5,600

Yampa River Botanic Park, $600

— Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. has awarded six grants totaling $40,000 to nonprofit organizations throughout Routt County. The grants are part of Ski Corp.'s Employee Environmental Fund.

Grant recipients include the Yampa River Botanic Park, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, the city of Steamboat Springs, Yampa Valley Stream Improvement and Yampatika.

The Employee Environmental Fund is supported with donations from Ski Corp. employees, special sales of individual chairs from old ski lifts and through Passport Club membership sales.

Yampatika Executive Director Jenn Wright said the $14,000 awarded to her environmental stewardship organization would help fund Yampatika's fifth-grade weather and climate program.

"It's wonderful that it's going directly back to the community, and it's wonderful we are getting the kids outside, out of the classrooms and getting an interactive experience," said Wright, who noted Yampatika is partnering with Storm Peak Laboratory to implement the program.

"We want to bring naturalists into the classrooms and provide an introduction to the concepts of climate change and weather," Wright said, noting the organization has raised half the funds through donations and grants to implement the program in Routt and Moffat County schools.

"The second day they would travel up to Storm Peak, taking measurements on relative humidity, wind speed and gathering other data as they go up the mountain," she said. "The third day would be a follow-up with them to see if they have drawn any conclusions."

Chris Diamond, president and chief operating officer of Ski Corp., said the environmental fund has awarded a total of $138,373 to 33 separate projects since 2004.

"The company has developed a strong position over the past four decades to protect the environment and provide responsible stewardship of the public and private lands on which the resort operations resides," Diamond said in a statement. "The Ski Corp. Employee Environmental Fund is just one way the resort continues the environmental and conservation legacy it has worked so hard to build."

Sheila Wright, program director for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, said the $9,515 awarded to RMYC will help fund the Yampa Valley Science School and maintenance on the Diamond Park trail.

"We are going to install a stream crossing in Diamond Park through some fragile ecological areas that have been damaged," she said. "Funding will also help continue the future sustainability of the Yampa Valley Science School, which is open to all Routt County sixth-graders."

The school enables students to have a hands-on experience with nature as they spend a week living at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.

"The culmination of the week is a community service conservation project," said Wright, who noted previous projects included the planting of cottonwood trees on the Yampa River Core Trial.

Diamond added that a goal of Ski Corp. is to become one of the premier leaders in the ski industry for implementing environmental initiatives.

"Through unique partnerships, such as the environmental fund with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, the resort and its employees are able to effect significant change within our community that quite literally touches every corner of the environmental arena," he said.

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