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SAWDUST SAVES OUR SNOW - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Monday July 3, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Well, that's different! Sawdust is being used in a French ski resort to protect the snow over the summer.

We've heard of some interesting ways to stop snow melting under the blazing sun, but this is a new one on us.

Les Saisies, part of the Espace Diamant ski area at the foot of Mont Blanc, has come up with what it says is a unique and eco-friendly method to preserve the white stuff.

They are covering it with brown stuff.

In April, some of the snow remaining in the resort was gathered, along with artificial snow, and covered with a 20 to 30cm layer of sawdust.

Sawdust being put on snow in Les SaisiesCovering up













The sawdust largely insulates the snow from the air and the sun, apparently resulting in only 10 to 15 per cent evaporation.

It will remain in place all through the summer and autumn.

Then, in November, the sawdust will be removed and the snow groomed into a small cross-country loop.

The resort is known for its cross-country skiing and has one of the largest and highest Nordic ski areas in Europe.

Les Saisies first used the technique at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Snow groomers collected 2000 cubic metres of snow and covered it with sawdust - the same sawdust that has been re-used this year.

Snowfarming with sawdust in Les SaisiesSnowfarming with sawdust
















The protected snow was turned into a 400m long, 20m wide summer ski slope, right in the centre of the resort.

It was opened up to celebrate the world's most famous road cycling race, the Tour de France, which passed through Les Saisies in July 2016.

Skiing in July 2016 in Les SaisiesSkiing in Les Saisies in July 2016
















The village's most celebrated native, the former alpine skier, Franck Piccard, gave it a go, though the run was a little shorter than he was used to.

Piccard won Olympic super-G gold and downhill bronze at Calgary in 1988, and went on to take silver at the Albertville Winter Olympics in 1992.

Franck Piccard in Les SaisiesFranck Piccard in Les Saisies, 22nd July 2016





















There are no plans to use the sawdust on downhill pistes in future but the intention is to protect a cross-country circuit of 800m to 1000m at the biathlon shooting range every year.

Les Saisies says it's aiming to control and limit its energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Among a series of measures, it's using 30 new-technology snowmakers in an effort to make the right amount of snow and avoid wasting energy and water.

It hopes to see a positive impact on the environment within four years.

Les SaisiesLes Saisies in winter

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