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Aspen Snowmass Employees Take the Lead on Conservation

Photo by Jeremy Swanson, Aspen Snowmass Photo by Jeremy Swanson, Aspen Snowmass

The Environment Foundation, an Aspen Skiing Company employee-funded, founded and directed foundation has awarded more than $2.8 million to 469 diverse local environmental projects since its inception in December 1997. Almost 1,800 employees per year contribute to the foundation directly from their paychecks.

During the fall 2015 funding cycle, the Environment Foundation Boards largest grants focused on renewable energy and planning efforts to preserve the heavily impacted Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness areas. Grants to improve the health of the Roaring Fork River, support communities opposed to inappropriate oil and gas development, cultivate future environmental stewards, and ensure popular hiking and biking trails remain in sound condition were also funded.

Conservation Colorados Education Fund (CCEF) received $10,000 to build support for initiatives to continue Colorados leadership in renewable energy while combatting climate change.

To increase understanding of renewable energy by youth funding was awarded to Energetics Educations Solar Rollers Program. The program engages youth in building solar powered cars that are ultimately raced against other students/schools. Throughout the competition students are constantly learning about the underlying technology, physics and engineering that is required to build a winning remote control car. Our mission is to inspire young people to develop knowledge in the field of energy and empower them to improve the worlds energy systems, says Noah Davis, Executive Director of Energetics Education, while building and racing Solar Roller cars is fun, fast and inspiring for teenagers, these little cars represent a valuable opportunity for students to engage deeply in studying energy-based solutions to climate change.

With over 12 million annual visitors to 2.3 million acres of public land, the White River National Forest (WRNF) is the most heavily visited National Forest in the United States. Over the past nine years the Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness area has seen radically increasing visitation levels that are no longer sustainable for the fragile alpine environments. A $10,000 grant supports the planning process for a Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness High Use Initiative to explore potential visitor management systems that preserve a wilderness aesthetic at Conundrum Hot Springs and throughout the Four Pass Loop.

In total, the Foundation donated more than $91,900 to 15 projects in the fall of 2015. The foundation is funded by donations from Aspen Skiing Company employees and matched in whole or in part by the Aspen Community Foundation and the Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund. Since its inception the foundation has supported 469 projects with more than $2.8 million in grants.

Fall 2015 funded projects represent a range of environmental issues facing the Roaring Fork Valley:

Organization Amount
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies: Three Years of General Operating Support for Environmental Education Programming ($7,500 commitment per cycle through 12/31/17) $7,500.00
Aspen TREE: Earth Keepers Community Day Camp $5,407.00
Citizens for a Healthy Community: Oil & Gas Government Accountability Program $7,500.00
Colorado Outward Bound School: Harnessing Potential through the Marble Basecamp $8,000.00
Colorado Water Trust: Restore the Roaring Fork River $4,000.00
Conservation Colorado Education Fund: Increasing Colorados Renewable Energy Standard $10,000.00
Energetics Education: Solar Rollers Program $7,500.00
Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center: build the political support for effective implementation and defense of the Clean Power Plan in Colorado $5,000.00
Independence Pass Foundation: Middle School Tree Planting $1,408.00
Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation: General Operating Support $4,000.00
Red Hill Council: 2015 Red Hill Blue Ribbon Trail Reroute Project $3,600.00
Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association: Trail Agent Program $4,500.00
Snowmass Discovery, Inc.: Colorados Legacy Fossil Discovery as a Platform for Climate Change Education $6,000.00
White River National Forest – Aspen-Sopris Ranger District:: Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness High Use Initiative $10,000.00
Wilderness Workshop: Forest Watchdog Program $7,500.00
Total $91,915.00