Alta is Mother Nature's Best Friend
Guest Blogger & Photos: Harriet Wallis
Dig this! Alta plants about 7,000 tiny seedlings and tree saplings every year that set their roots into the mountain's stony soil. It's a tough life for the little plants, but they like it that way. They were born here.
In partnership with TreeUtah, Alta continues its aggressive revegetation program by planting another 1,500 saplings this year. It's planted 10,000 trees over five years -- and it annually plants thousands of wildflowers and shrubs. The work is done by enthusiastic community volunteers, Alta employees, and Alta's environmental staff.
But let's start at the beginning. Every fall, Alta employees hike up the mountain and gather seed from the indigenous plants that thrive in the rugged mountain conditions.
Then the seeds grow in little tubes until they're transplanted back onto the mountain. Nursery-grown plants, even of the same species, would wimp out in the high mountain conditions.
When the ski slopes are disturbed by erosion, wear, or construction, Alta replants the area the way it used to be.
For example, after Alta expanded its popular Corkscrew Trail, the work area was replanted with the same species that had been growing there.
The rule of thumb: Revegetation takes about 1,000 plants per acre, said Maura Olivos, Alta's sustainability coordinator and ecologist who directs the ongoing seed-to-revegetation program that spans from year to year.
If plants could talk, her job would be easier. Some like to grow below 9,500 feet, others like it higher. Some like the south slope, but others prefer to face east, or west, or north. Olivos makes those observations so the right plants get into the right places.
It's crucial because Alta is in a national forest that's also a protected watershed. It's ecologically sensitive. Mom Nature is thankful for Alta's stewardship and all the help she gets revegetating the mountain.