Communal Love – Colorado Ski Country USA resorts “heart” the Earth. They make a lot of effort to carry out sustainable business practices and protect the environment in which we ski. But while everyone is getting touchy-feely over Earth Day, let’s not forget that resorts give a lot of love to the mountain communities too, the smaller worlds that they operate in.
Colorado resorts do more for local communities than provide great skiing. Resort community efforts include philanthropy, volunteerism, and environmental work. From donating days of skiing to providing scholarship opportunities for students, Colorado Ski Country resorts maintain a strong focus on community responsibility. Resorts depend on the support of their communities and in turn, contribute their time and money to help address local needs.
Through fundraisers and contribution programs, resorts raise and donate money to various charities and community projects. The philanthropic efforts of resorts focus on improving education, environmental safety, and community development. Additionally, Colorado Ski Country USAs 22 member resorts partner with many community organizations that benefit schools, hospitals, adaptive sports programs, environmental initiatives and more.
A-Basin partners with many organizations within the community to help them achieve their goals, including The Summit Foundation, Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness, Continental Divide Land Trust, Keystone Science School, Summit County Conservation Center, Rotary and Rotaract, Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, and the ski and snowboard outreach organization, SOS.
During the 2008-09 season, A-Basin donated more than $90,000 in contributions to charities and local non-profits. Some of the recipients of A-Basins giving program include The Summit Foundation, High Country Conservation Center, Colorado AIDS program, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge, Make a Difference Day, and the Summit County High School Scholarship and Turf program.
A-Basin also hosts events at the ski area throughout the season, which benefit many different groups including the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, High Country Conservation Center, Rotary causes and Summit County Rescue Group.
The Aspen/Snowmass Environment Foundation is an employee-run foundation that nearly half of all employees donate to each week out of their paychecks. Employee donations are then matched by the Aspen Community Foundation, and again by the Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund.
In its 12 years of existence, the Environment Foundation has given back to 277 projects and donated more than $1.4 million to important causes. Since its inception in 1997, the foundation has supported local environmental causes like clean air and water, trail maintenance and energy efficiency in the Roaring Fork Valley.
In addition to the Environment Foundation, Aspen Skiing Company recently installed a $1 million solar array at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, CO. The 150kW system sits on a half-acre of ranchland and powers the schools science building with excess energy feeding into the town of Carbondales power grid. Annually, it produces 200,000 kWh (enough power for 20 average American homes) and keeps 400,000 lbs of carbon dioxide out of the air each year.
Through the Ski Area Contribution Program, Copper and the National Forest Foundation (NFF) have granted more than $115,000 to local non-profits since the Programs inception in November, 2006. Copper has partnered with NFF, a non-profit partner of the US Forest Service, to fund local forest conservation projects that are implemented in the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest. The main areas of focus for this program include recreation, wildlife habitat improvement, community-based forestry and watershed health and restoration. Copper also supports local conservation groups and maintains the local Wheeler Lakes Trail through the Adopt-a-Trail program.
Copper has also created an employee environmental fund, the Copper Environmental Foundation, in which the resort matches voluntary contributions from employees and the money is granted to local non-profits or tax-exempt groups conducting youth-focused community environmental projects. The Copper Environmental Foundation was founded in November 2007 by Copper employees and has granted more than $30,000 to multiple projects in its first 2 years alone.
Additionally, Copper Mountain has hosted the Special Olympics Colorado Winter Games for the past 21 consecutive seasons. The event includes alpine skiing, alpine snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing with more than 550 athletes participating annually. Copper is proud to be the official winter training site for all Colorado-based winter Special Olympics athletes as well as the official host resort for the Winter Games through 2010.
Copper Mountain is also a proud host of the Courage Classic, a three-day bike tour, which benefits The Childrens Hospital in Denver. In 2008, the event raised more than $2 million for the facility.
As a resort member of Triple Peaks LLC, Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) and its employees embrace seven Guiding Principles that outline the strategic and operational responsibilities of the community. These principles include: community identity, environmental preservation, economic development, communication, civics education, community planning, and long-range resort planning. CBMR has pledged to uphold these principles in order to support the economic, environmental, and social well-being of the community.
CBMR also dedicates time and money to the resorts community partnerships with diverse local organizations, such as the Office for Resource Efficiency (ORE), Gunnison Community Foundation, Adaptive Sports Center, and the Crested Butte Land Trust.
Echo Mountain capitalizes on the resorts proximity to larger metro areas like Denver and Boulder in order to attract both Front Range visitors and locals to their biggest fundraising event every year. Each season, Echo Mountain hosts the Clear Creek County Climb to Conquer Cancer, a community gathering and fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The event begins with an opening ceremony honoring all cancer survivors, with the main event consisting of a non-competitive walk/run over three possible courses, ranging from easy to difficult. Event participants are each encouraged to raise at least $100 each to help fight cancer.
New this season, Eldora launched an outdoor and environmental education program. Through a partnership with Nederland schools, the program not only teaches youth how to ski and snowboard, but also incorporates a broad science and nature curriculum. The resort aims to get kids caring about the environment and appreciating the natural beauty that they can experience through skiing and riding.
Loveland makes multiple donations to local and Front Range charities throughout the year. Specifically, to support the ski and snowboard outreach program, SOS, Loveland provides approximately 40 Front Range kids with season ski passes. SOS is a non-profit organization that builds leadership among at-risk youth through outdoor adventure programs, such as skiing and snowboarding.
Loveland also hosts several annual fundraisers. The largest of these, The Corn Harvest, to be held this year on April 24, has raised over $30,000 for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
To provide service to local organizations that need assistance, Monarch formed Monarch Community Outreach (MCO). MCO is a non-profit organization funded by employee contributions, which are matched by Monarch. MCO helps many charitable groups by volunteering or donating funds and has contributed over $40,000 to local non-profits over the last five seasons.
Monarch also supports the Salida Steamplant Theater and Events Center as the Centers biggest sponsor. The Steamplant is a venue that hosts cultural events for the local community.
Powderhorn hosts various annual fundraisers to support a number of different organizations. For example, proceeds from the resorts annual Breakfast with Santa at the Wildewood Restaurant benefit Hospice of Western Colorado, St. Jude’s Research Hospitals, and the Thanks & Giving campaign.
Each year, Powderhorn also hosts the Higher Love campaign. Through Higher Love, the resort donates money to the Latimer House, a facility that provides shelter and counseling services to victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort
Each season, Durango Mountain Resort (DMR) partners with a local non-profit for Benefit Day. On Benefit Day, proceeds from lift tickets are donated to selected non-profits. Past recipients have included American Red Cross and Big Brothers and Sisters of La Plata County.
DMR also partners with numerous organizations in the community, to which they make financial or product donations annually for fundraising efforts. Additionally, DMR provides scholarships for children lacking the finances to partake in DFEE day, a Ski for Education Day event hosted by the Durango Foundation for Educational Excellence.
Durango also works closely with environmental groups located in the Four Corners Region, including partnering with San Juan Biodiesel, an organization that aims to sustain biodiesel growth and usage in the Four Corners region.
Silverton Mountain donates numerous days of skiing to Colorado-based non-profits in order to help these organizations afford to take the communities they serve on ski trips. In addition, Silvertons owners are active members of the Silverton Economic Development Alliance and the local planning commission board.
Silverton Mountain also hosts programs and activities to educate the public about avalanche awareness and environmental issues.
Steamboat kicks off each season with Scholarship Day, where revenues from opening day lift ticket sales are donated to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Scholarship Fund. This fund provides financial support for deserving local children participating in SSWSC Club programs. Since 1991, Scholarship Day has raised more than $545,000 for deserving athletes.
Each year, the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. Funds, housed at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, award special need-based grants and scholarships to charities, non-profit organizations and local students. Through this staff-supported effort, the resort awards over $300,000 annually in and around Routt County. Since the inception of the Funds, more than $2.5 million has gone towards community recreation projects and charitable needs; over 100 high school graduates have benefited from more than $260,000; and nearly $250,000 has been sent to a variety of environmental organizations and projects across the Yampa Valley.
The resort also works closely with numerous organizations to aid fundraising initiatives. Through all of its philanthropic avenues, Steamboat has donated more than $11 million over the past decade to local, national, and worldwide organizations including Routt County United Way, Yampatika, Storm Peak Laboratory, Strings in the Mountains, American Heart Association, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Rotary International, Snowboard Outreach Society and Sunshine Kids.
Sunlight recognizes the importance of respecting the environment. Sunlights Vegetation Management Program strives to maintain the maximum forest cover that is compatible with safe and varied skiing and snowboarding. The resorts operating plans and training documents emphasize protecting tree groves from possible mechanical damage by snow grooming equipment and other operating machinery.
Sunlight also sponsors the Clean the Curves roadside clean-up of Four-Mile Road, in which volunteers clean the trash from a six-mile stretch of road leading up to the resort.
Additionally, Sunlight partners with many local non-profits to host their Ski Spree Events. During this celebration, the Rotary Club hosts a Chili Cook-Off, and Colorado Animal Rescue hosts a Poker Run fundraiser. Sunlight also works closely with Garfield County United Way, who is the beneficiary of fundraising that the resort does through its Skier Appreciation Day.
Telluride Ski Resort enjoys a close relationship with the local community. The resort partners with the town of Mountain Village and the town of Telluride, affiliating with the local chambers of commerce, all of the local restaurants, most of the hotels, rental outlets, and the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club. Through these affiliations, the ski area is able to help keep their guests experience in the area as affordable and enjoyable.
Telluride also works hard to take care of the environment. Tellurides environmental program works closely on initiatives with major environmental organizations, including the US Forest Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, Colorado Division of Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corp. of Engineers, Sheep Mountain Alliance, San Juan Fens Partnership, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Colorado Department of Transportation, New Community Coalition Sustainability Team, Clif Bar, Chaco, and Fairfield Resorts.
Winter Park Resort works with Denver Parks and Recreation to build and maintain Ruby Hill Rail Yard, the first-ever free urban terrain park in downtown Denver. Ruby Hill provides a great way for kids in the community to try out snow sports and even offers free rentals on select days.
Also for Denverites, Winter Park helps to facilitate transportation, lift tickets, and other needs for more than 1,300 Denver residents who participate in the Denver Parks and Recreation snow sports program.
To better educate its staff and guests about Winter Park Resorts environmental initiatives, the resort developed Connexion, which is an umbrella brand with a distinct look that is displayed throughout the resort on various recycling stations and on-mountain signage. Connexions goal is to inform, involve and educate resort employees, guests and the community about the environment in which they work and play.
Winter Park Resort is also home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled, one of the largest and oldest outdoor therapeutic recreation agencies of its kind. Entering its 40th year, NSCD offers instruction to children and adults with physical or cognitive disabilities.
Annually, Wolf Creek hosts a school program that awards scholarships to local elementary, middle and high school students. To further promote educational endeavors, Wolf Creek supports the Creede School Endowment Foundation by donating 10 cents per lift ticket that it sells to the Foundation. The Foundation uses this support to provide college scholarship funds to graduating high school students. To date, Wolf Creeks donations to the foundation have totaled more than $63,000.
Wolf Creek also holds a yearly fundraiser for United Way, an international organization that creates opportunities to improve quality of life. For this benefit fundraiser, the resort reduces lift ticket prices and donates the discounted amount from each ticket to the charity. Wolf Creek donated $3,374 through the fundraiser during this past year.
Wolf Creek also donates generously to many other foundations. Recent donations have included: $10,000 to the Dr. Mary Fischer Medical Foundation (the new Pagosa Mountain Hospital), $5,000 to the Monte Vista Public Schools for the Marsh Elementary Playground Project, and $2,000 to the Rio Grande Headwaters Land trust. Additionally, Wolf Creek donates annually to the San Luis Valley area food banks; food donation for the 2008-09 ski season totaled $2,000.