Our Ongoing Commitment to Preserve Alta
Many of the programs listed below rely on volunteer support. Your time and effort has a huge impact on what we are able to accomplish on the ground. Please consider volunteering – review our calendar for details and opportunities or sign up on our volunteer page.
Invasive Weed Program
Invasive weeds can be experts at out competing native vegetation, especially after disturbances to the top soil. This is seen most readily in areas near roadways, trails and construction sites. In an effort to aid native vegetation, Friends of Alta co-hosts two invasive weed removal events per month during the summer. By combining our work with that of the Alta Environmental Center and Cottonwoods Canyon Foundation, our efforts are strengthened. This partnership has successfully kept the invasive weeds in Alta at bay. At the end of the season, volunteers celebrate with a potluck “Stewardship Social.”
Friends of Alta’s stewardship interest in planting trees stems from mining activities and a unified goal to conserve wildlife habitat and help maintain and encourage a healthy watershed.
When mining came to an end in the 1930’s, Alta was left nearly treeless. This greatly increased the avalanche danger already present due to the steep angle of Alta’s slopes. In 1939, Alta Ski Lifts began operating and with the aid of the Civilian Conservation Corps, Alta began a long standing tradition of planting trees to reduce the risks from avalanches and improve the skier experience. As a result of these reforestation efforts, a good percentage of Alta’s trees are now of a similar age. Continued efforts by Friends of Alta, alongside plantings by Tree Utah and the Alta Environmental Center increase age diversity and support long term forest succession.
We need volunteers to help us plant seedlings and trees in September each year. For everyone’s safety and enjoyment we request that volunteers wear long pants, sturdy boots, gloves, sunscreen and bring an appropriate amount of food and water for the duration of the planting session.
The Spruce Bark Beetle and Mountain Pine Beetle are causing widespread tree mortality throughout the west and are now present in Alta. Unfortunately, bark beetle outbreaks are not preventable, but with proper planning their impact can be reduced. Our efforts to increase the age diversity of Alta’s forests will support the forest’s ability to recover after an attack. Alta Ski Area has been responding to the influx of beetles by monitoring and properly disposing of infested trees. Also, during our conservation easement inspections, Friends of Alta staff look for signs of beetle activity.
Alta Summer Booth Program
The Town of Alta is a year round recreational haven, with perfect powder snow in the winter and beautiful trails, scenery, flora and fauna in the summer. Friends of Alta provides financial assistance to the Town’s Alta Summer Booth Program; a free service to the public, providing helpful information on trails and recreational activities, along with National Forest and watershed regulations.
Naturalist Program – Alta Summer Booth
Faced with an influx in summer visitors in Alta, FOA stepped in to provide additional public education and information beyond the Summer Booth Program. These efforts help reduce the negative impacts of thousands of visitors annually to Albion Basin. Once a week from July-September, the summer Bill Levitt Fellow spends the day hosting a naturalist booth outside the Albion Grill in Alta. This naturalist (also hosted by Cottonwood Canyons Foundation and Alta Environmental Center staff once a week) promotes watershed awareness, providing visitor information and encourages careful and sustainable recreation in Albion Basin. The primary educational goals include “leave-no-trace” practices, and providing general information about the trails, flora and fauna of the area.
Wasatch Legacy Project
The mission of the Wasatch Legacy Project (WLP) is to undertake actions that conserve and sustain critical resources, create resilient ecosystems, and enrich the quality of life for Wasatch Front Citizen’s. The WLP builds on existing relationships and embraces new partners in a collaborative effort to enhance watershed conditions and provide sustainable outdoor recreation in the watersheds sustaining the Salt Lake valley.
Remediation of Zinc loading into Little Cottonwood Creek from past mining activities is just one of the projects this group has focused on. Through our membership with the WLP, Friends of Alta received and managed a 319 non-point source grant through the State of Utah and EPA to test different treatment methods and monitor the creek.