Heavenly cleans up blemishes | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly cleans up blemishes

Her shoulders brown from the afternoon sun, Angela Moniot planted a seedling on a steep slope near Heavenly Ski Resort as if she were holding a baby.

She packed mulch around the small Douglas fir and joked with trail crew supervisor Rob Duryee that perhaps they should use Miracle Gro.

The job was a departure for Moniot, a Heavenly marketing department staffer. This week she joined a crew of more than 40 staff and U.S. Forest Service workers who planted about 1,200 firs and lodgepole pines just below the summit of East Peak.

The tree project, on a section of the mountain known as the “fire break,” is intended to help offset trees lost when the ski resort built its gondola lift. Heavenly plans to plant another 1,500 trees in the same area.

Eventually, the mile-long, 40-foot-wide swath of land should develop a normal forest canopy. The trees will be hand-watered every two weeks for the first two seasons through a $4,000 irrigation system constructed Tuesday.

“The combination of our summer weather, the high elevation and the soil on the upper mountain aren’t necessarily the most conducive to growing these seedlings successfully,” said Malcolm Tibbetts, Heavenly’s vice president of mountain operations. “The irrigation system will significantly help increase our success rate. And since these types of trees are already growing at Heavenly and are indigenous, we should see a solid rate of survival among the seedlings.”

The trees, trucked in from the Nevada Division of Forestry in Washoe County cost about $3 each. They should spring into view in about a decade.

“We’re essentially erasing blemishes on the hillside,” Tibbetts said while carting lunches up to the crew. “Several of our employees don’t get the chance to work out on the mountain during the summer months. The tree planting program will give them a day to enjoy some beautiful weather while giving back to our environment.”

That’s precisely what groomer Lupe Barrientos had in mind.

“It’s rewarding because we get to give back what we took,” Barrientos said while taking a water break. “And I know I’ll sleep good tonight.”

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