Ski Resorts Get Grades for Environmental Practices

by | Dec 30, 2010

The big ski resort that is involved in serious real-estate development and the local ski area that is involved in “uphill transportation” leave quite different carbon footprints, according to the Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition, and their 2011 Ski Area Report Card aims to inform skiers of the difference.

The action group’s new report card rates ski facilities across the western ski states in four different categories: habitat protection, protecting watersheds, addressing global climate change and environmental practices and policies, according to the group’s web site.

The group released its Top 10 and Worst 10 rankings under the new review system.

Top 10

1(A) Squaw Valley USA – California89.2%
2(A) Park City Mountain Resort – Utah86.5%
3(A) Alpine Meadows Ski Area – California86.2%
4(A) Aspen Mountain Ski Resort – Colorado84.3%
5(A) Aspen Highlands Ski Resort – Colorado84.0%
6(A) Buttermilk Mountain Ski Resort – Colorado83.9%
7(A) Deer Valley Resort – Utah83.0%
8(A) Jackson Hole Mountain Resort – Wyoming82.6%
9(A) Sundance Resort – Utah82.2%
10(A) Bogus Basin Mountain Resort – Idaho81.3%

Worst 10:

1(D) Breckenridge Ski Resort – Colorado41.3%
2(D) Sun Valley Resort – Idaho48.3%
3(D) Arizona Snowbowl – Arizona51.9%
4(D) Taos Ski Valley – New Mexico52.2%
5(D) White Pass Ski Area – Washington52.6%
6(D) Copper Mountain Ski Resort – Colorado54.5%
7(D) Brundage Mountain Resort – Idaho55.0%
8(C) Solitude Mountain Resort – Utah56.4%
9(D) Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard – Nevada57.3%
10(C) Brian Head Resort – Utah58.1%

Some of the best practices, according to ABC News, at top-ranked Squaw Valley include the incineration of 99% of waste from resort restaurants to heat buildings and walkways, and excess energy from the cooling process at the ice rink used to heat the swimming pool.

The sustainability efforts of ski areas across the nation are receiving media attention, but, according to SACC, complete information about the whole impact of the ski industry is not as easy to find.

Citing EPA comments on ski resort development plans in the White River National Forest, the website reports that “…no other land management prescription on the Forest directly results in more stream-water depletion, wetland impacts, air pollution, permanent vegetation change, or permanent habitat loss… more wetland impacts and stream depletions resulted from ski area expansion and improvement than from all other Forest management activities combined.”

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