December 1, 2010
Ski resorts across the west improved environmental ratings for the fourth year in a row during the recession according to the 2010/2011 Ski Area Environmental Report Card, released each year by the Ski Area Citizens Coalition. The 82 ski resorts scattered throughout the West saw an average improvement of 2% in their overall scores. Rating improvement trends resulted from resorts investing in water and energy efficiency projects and for not proposing or implementing terrain expansions into sensitive lands.
“Ski areas are not developing as much new terrain in sensitive areas,” According to Paul Joyce Ski Area Citizens Research Director. “Is this due to an environmental commitment? Or when the economy turns will the treads on the bulldozers turn also.”
According to Richard McIntyre, Sierra Nevada Alliance Campaigns Director “Ski areas spent money on energy efficiency such as upgrading windows, employing solar power and improving public transportation, but this won’t compensate for taking out endangered species habitat or bulldozing a wetland. We hope their environmental efficiency mindset extends to their development strategy as the economy improves.”
Overall resorts improved for the 4th year in a row,” said Ryan Bidwell Executive Director of Colorado Wild. “But we’re concerned the environmental trend is skin thin and not a total mindset. We hope the days of bull dozing streams and serving eviction notices to wildlife to add a new ski-run are truly over, we expect no less.”
“Though there are some outliers, as a whole we’re happy to see that resorts appear to be taking their environmental performance and practices more seriously,” said Norma Ryan of Ski Area Citizens. “Of 82 ski areas evaluated, only Taos New Mexico made an environmental face plant, and 26 areas received an overall grade of “B” or better. That speaks well for future of the industry.”
The Ski Area Citizens Coalition is comprised of conservation groups around the west, including Colorado Wild and the Sierra Nevada Alliance. The Full Report Card for all 82 resorts and more details can be found at www.skiareacitizens.com. The Ski Area Citizens Coalition (SACC) has been publishing the Ski Area Report Card for the past 10 years. The Report Card evaluates the environmental policies and practices of ski areas based on a system of 40 criteria. The criteria to evaluate performance includes grading ski areas on their preservation of sensitive lands within the ski resort areas and their actions related to water conservation and quality, and commitment to green programs such as recycling and energy efficiency.
Skiers and snowboarders can easily email resorts through the website www.skiareacitizens.com, thanking resorts for their environmental stewardship or encouraging them to improve their environmental policies and management.
Scorecard data is obtained from an annual survey, public records from government agencies, and from the resorts themselves. Freedom of Information Act and Public Records Act requests are filed with appropriate land managers to identify ski area development projects and management plans each spring. Resorts are also asked to fill out surveys regarding their on-mountain environmental programs. All source documents can be viewed on the website.