What does Spain have in common with Tahoe ski areas? | SierraSun.com

What does Spain have in common with Tahoe ski areas?

Special to the Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The health of a nation is reflected in the health of its soil. For this, reason Michael Hogan, a soil scientist and restoration practitioner with Integrated Environmental Restoration Services, Inc. was recently invited to be the keynote speaker at the Natura 2000 Habitat Restoration conference in Spain.

The purpose of the conference was to bring together experts in environmental restoration of high altitude ski areas where soil erosion and habitat restoration are big issues.

"Our environmental issues are nearly identical," said Hogan, who's also president of the Tahoe City-based IERS. "This conference and the interest and concerns that spawned it, show how closely we are all connected. Ski areas in Spain are beginning to deal with the same issues that we, in North America have been trying to deal with."

Erosion is one of the most pressing and widespread environmental threats to watersheds throughout the world. We depend on soil to grow our food, support our forests, provide clean water and process our waste.

Soil health is deeply interconnected with some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time including global climate change, drinking water supply, clean air and increasing rates of species extinction.

The Spanish environmental organization "SEO Birdlife," together with the E.U. initiative program "Natura 2000," found Hogan's work with ski areas throughout the West and the two publications written by IERS: "Sediment Source Control Handbook" and "Watershed Management Guidebook" (both are available online for free).

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These publications present a set of principles and practices for sediment source control and habitat improvement on disturbed sites. Most of the research and work was done in Western ski resorts including Homewood, Heavenly, Northstar and Mammoth, among others.

The work was the result of a collaborative partnership between the private and public sectors tasked with land management and quality protection.

"The message I shared was that protection of habitat begins with a shift in habits," Hogan said. "If we embrace the habit of checking whether our efforts are working and improving, we will have a chance to save and improve some of our special status areas."

This article was submitted to the Sun by Integrated Environmental Restoration Services, Inc., a recognized leader in the development, testing, implementing and monitoring of cutting-edge, soil based restoration projects throughout the Sierra Nevada. Visit http://www.ierstahoe.com to learn more.