Alta Ski Area | Opening Day | Alta, Utah


Elise Cottonwood Canyons Foundation

Elise Hinman Community Engagement Coordinator

Elise Hinman is the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation. She sat down with us to discuss the upcoming Alta Earth Day!

1. What are ways people can practice/promote Earth Day in their everyday lives?

We should all strive to make every day Earth Day—we only have one Earth. There are many ways, big and small, to conserve resources and take care of our Earth.

First, go out and enjoy the natural world! Gain an appreciation for the natural resources we depend upon for our livelihoods and survival! Carpool with friends and family up to the Cottonwood Canyons and see the source of 60% of Salt Lake City’s drinking water. Learn about the history of the canyons at Silver Lake Visitor’s Center, and come out and volunteer to take care of these places with the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation, TreeUtah, Friends of Alta, and Alta Environmental Center, among other environmental organizations!

Remember these beautiful landscapes and reduce your water and energy usage at home and at work, reuse and repurpose goods, and recycle items you no longer need. Composting fruit and vegetable scraps, as well as yard clippings, is a great way to create a natural fertilizer that will make your garden flourish like the meadows of wildflowers in Albion Basin.

Finally, reduce fossil fuel emissions by hopping on your bike (if bike lanes exist in your area!), carpooling with coworkers or friends, or taking public transportation. Be adventurous–learn about sustainability and do something about it!

2. What’s the mission of the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation?

The Cottonwood Canyons Foundation works to continuously improve the environments of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons through education and stewardship programs. However, we cannot carry out our mission without the help of hundreds of volunteers and concerned community members!

3. What can people expect on the tour this Saturday?

Alta Snowshoe Tour participants will walk away with a deeper understanding of the history, geology, and ecology of the Cottonwood Canyons and countless memories to boot! The guided walk is as much an exploration of the area as it is a guided tour–participants learn about the wildlife who call Alta home and look for animal tracks in the snow! They learn to identify the common trees in the canyons and why most of the trees are all the same age. Participants wonder at the complex and fascinating geologic history responsible for Little Cottonwood Canyon’s characteristic U-Shape. It’s a comfortable meander and participants are encouraged to think, ask questions, and contribute what they know.

4. What makes the Cottonwoods so unique?

The Cottonwood Canyons are unique because of their proximity to a large metropolitan area. From the early beginnings of Salt Lake City, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon were sources of water, livestock forage, timber, granite, and mining. As a result, the canyons experienced heavy degradation in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, which went on to affect ecosystem function and water quality. However, the US Forest Service, Salt Lake City, and other entities recognized the importance of ecological health in these areas, and they set to work restoring the environment in the Cottonwoods.

Many who gaze upon the beautiful snowcapped peaks, blooming meadows, and lush forests have no idea of the canyons’ degraded past, and that’s a testament to the dedication of many to the health of the canyons.

The Cottonwoods are also a source of hope and inspiration: through partnership, action, and sustainable practices, we can improve the environments of other places in need of conservation.

5. How can people volunteer for the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation?

Head to our Volunteer Opportunities page on our website. There, you’ll find a brief explanation of the many ways one can improve Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. There’s something for everyone!

If you like working hard, sweating, and putting in hours on the trail, one of our stewardship volunteer days may be for you–help us maintain trails, control graffiti, and remove invasive weeds!

If you enjoy learning the ecology, geology, and history of the area, you might want to go through our naturalist training and become a naturalist volunteer with us, sharing what you know with school groups and the public.

Finally, we are always looking for writers, photographers, videographers, designers, and social media gurus to help us with our marketing and outreach. Check out our website to sign up!

Additionally, stay on top of our events and volunteer opportunities and learn more about the canyons by signing up for our newsletter and following us on social media:

And don’t forget to visit Alta on Saturday, April 14 for a full day of Earth Day activities.

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