The Daily - January 26, 2022 - 10

Pulse
S N O W S H O W 2 0 1 9
THE
H E A D L I N E S / P O R T R A I T S / B I G P I C T U R E
Light
the Fire
A home-heating crisis sparks a snowboard
collaboration that gives back.
By Endria Richardson
THE LANDSCAPE OF PAGE,
Arizona, is about as topographically
distinct from the steep alpine
grades of Vail, Colorado, as you can
get. For 45 years, the three towering
smokestacks of the Navajo
Generating Station off ered incongruous
altitude, a sparse concrete
forest disturbing the otherwise fl at
horizon of the Great Basin Desert.
But a small snowboarding company
based in Vail-Weston Backcountry-is
helping to link the two
communities with fi rewood and
snowboards.
For 45 years, the Navajo Generating
Station provided aff ordable
electrical power to residents of
Arizona, Nevada, and California.
When the plant shut down in
2019, residents lost a fi nancially
sustainable form of heat during the
winter. " It really is a home-heating
crisis, " emphasizes Sasha Ortiz,
program manager for Wood for
Life, a program run in part by the
National Forest Foundation in Arizona.
" There is an immediate and
urgent need for energy. Yet while
our neighbors are in crisis, we have
a wood supply. "
10
That wood supply is at the
Kaibab and Coconino National
Forests in northern Arizona. Piles
and piles of small-diameter trees
and biomass-pulled from overly
dense stands in forest restoration
and thinning operations-can sit
for months at a time before being
cleared. As the piles sit dead and
drying, they pose a fi re risk. The
cost and complexity of transporting
the wood presents a frustrating
bottleneck.
Wood for Life provides the
infrastructure and funding to help
move that cleared wood from the
forests and bring it to Navajo and
Hopi populations, who previously
relied on coal for home heating,
for use as fi rewood. Since the
project's launch in Arizona in
2020, Ortiz estimates that they've
transported around 7,000 truckloads
of wood, enough to heat
about 14,000 households.
It's a scenario-and an opportunity-that's
playing out in national
forests across the country,
including in Colorado, where
Wood for Life will launch its next
pilot program.
/ OUTDOOR RETAILER SNOW SHOW 2022
Enter Weston Backcountry.
Originally founded in 2012 in
Minturn, Colorado, the company
has historically focused on the
importance of building community
in and around the backcountry.
" When you're in the backcountry, "
says Sean Eno, the marketing
director at Weston, " you have a
responsibility to keep each other
safe and to do right by each other. "
Under the leadership of current
owner, Leo Tsuo, Weston has
aimed to redefi ne what the community
of backcountry snowboarders
is and could be. It emphasizes
safety, responsible stewardship of
public lands, and accessibility. Five
years ago, the company reached
out to the National Forest Foundation
in search of a sustainable way
to support-and not just play on-
public lands. The fi rst collaboration
was to install a beacon check
station at Vail Pass in Colorado.
Next, it began to off er fellowships
and specifi c courses and meetups
specifi cally for people of color,
women, and people who identify
as LGBTQ+-communities they
recognized as having been excluded
from the sport.
Vernan Kee
CARLO NASISSE

The Daily - January 26, 2022

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The Daily - January 26, 2022 - CW1
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The Daily - January 26, 2022 - Cover3
The Daily - January 26, 2022 - Cover4
The Daily - January 26, 2022 - CW3
The Daily - January 26, 2022 - CW4
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