The Ski with a Ranger program returned to Heavenly Mountain Resort this week after a monthlong hiatus resulting from unfavorable weather conditions.
With a sufficient amount of snow now on the ground and no wind hold on the gondola, the National Forest Service was once again able to conduct tours on the mountain to educate participants on environmental stewardship and more.
“Ski with a Ranger is really to promote stewardship on National Forest land, and with that goes skier and snowboarder responsibility and human responsibility,” said Megan Dee, a forest service employee and guide on Friday’s tour.
It would be hard to ask for a better day to take the hourlong tour Friday. The sun beamed down on the group of Forest Service volunteers and program participants while temperatures hung around 50 degrees.
The tour began at the top of the gondola before embarking on Tamarack Express.
From there, the team skied or snowboarded around the resort, stopping every so often to hear about Lake Tahoe’s natural environment from Forest Service staff and volunteers.
Topics included information on native animal and plant species, such as the American Marten and Lake Tahoe draba. But guides also talked about various kinds of trees growing locally in Tahoe’s forests and the ever-present dangers of wildfires.
Volunteer Matt Robertson said the program is a great way to inform the public of Tahoe’s natural environment and the measures being taken to protect it. Knowing this, he was more than willing to sign up.
“This was a chance to do some fun community service and help people …” he said. “It just seemed like a really fun combination.”
Melanie Garrison, a Chico, Calif., resident who participated in the tour Friday, said she found the program both fun and educational.
“I just find land management, and the integration of human recreation and environmental conservation, interesting,” she said of trying the tour.
“I think the tours are great,” Garrison added. “I think everyone should go on it.”
There are many things participants can learn from the Ski with a Ranger tours, Dee said, and one of the most important is to understand that protecting the environment is a group effort.
Being able to ski down Heavenly at the same time is just a great opportunity to accomplish that, she said.
“It’s kind of a nice time to understand it does take everybody to continue the preservation of Lake Tahoe,” Dee said, “and there are many things we can do as visitors and locals alike.”
Ski with a Ranger is a free program to skiers and snowboarders who are at least at an intermediate level of riding. Tours are held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Mondays and Fridays until about mid-April.
Anyone who would like to participate in the program can do so by meeting Forest Service volunteers at the top of the gondola during scheduled times. Tours are conducted on a first-come, first-served basis.