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The Environment In Which We Ski

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is coming up later this month. In Ski Country, we feel that every day is Earth Day as resorts are constantly exploring new ways to support our sports most valuable asset. As we all work to continue to be good stewards of the environment, we wanted to let skiers and riders know some of the new environmental programs in place this season and ongoing efforts planned for the future: (photo by Dan Sweeney)


Climate Change Initiatives

Aspen/Snowmass continues to be a business leader when it comes to sustainability. In addition to the resorts many solar arrays, use of micro-hydroelectric power, LEED certified buildings and various other on-site successes, Aspen/Snowmass has played an active role on the national and legislative level to combat climate change. Two more LEED certified buildings came on line at the resort this year, including the LEED Gold Sams Smokehouse on-mountain restaurant and the LEED Platinum Holiday House employee housing complex.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort this season began using a Utiliguard Power Quality Filter distributed by Colorado master distributor, Energy Conservation Products, on the Red Lady chairlift. The filter is designed to reduce dirty energy, which increases efficiency. By reducing electrical surges, the filter allows the lift to run more efficiently and use less energy. CBMR is the first ski area in Colorado to test this new harmonic filter on a ski lift. The new filter also reduces energy costs for lift operations by 20 to 25 percent.

Copper Mountains overall renewable energy strategy is enhanced by the recent installation of the resorts first solar project. Photovoltaic panels now line the south-facing roof of Coppers Transportation Center located in the Alpine Lot. This 4.2-kilowatt system provides a portion of the electricity for the building.

Steamboat powers its Burgess Creek, Christie Peak Express and Sunshine Express chairlifts utilizing a combination of alternative energies, including solar and wind power.

Wolf Creek continues its commitment to purchase 100 percent wind power for both winter and summer use, for all operations on and off mountain.

photo by Dan Sweeney

photo by Dan Sweeney

Recycling, Reusing, Composting

Arapahoe Basin continues to improve and develop its noteworthy composting program this season. In the past, the resort did its part by composting all kitchen waste in The Legends Caf. New this season, A-Basin has begun to compost at all employee events and Black Mountain Lodge Snowshoe Dinners. Some employees have taken initiative in this program toothe snowsports departments employees are composting with children in the Kids Zone and the ski patrol staff is composting at patrol headquarters. The ski areas Green Team monitors the program closely.

Monarch recycles everything possible at the ski area. The mountains food and beverage facility also uses compostable cutlery.

Silverton also reuses and recycles at every level of the ski area. The entire ski area has been built with recycled products, which were either donated or purchased used from other areas around the country. The base lodge was donated from the town of Silverton.The equipment facility is made out of an old school bus. The mountains only lift was purchased from Mammoth resort in California, and all of the mountain vehicles were donated as well as all handheld radios, furnishings, carpet, bar equipment, ski patrol toboggans, rope, and bamboo used for rails and other construction.

Steamboat this season embarked on a Zero Waste Initiative with the goal of producing zero waste in food and beverage outlets on the mountain and in the base area. Dining outlets have changed to compostable plates, cups, napkins and flatware, and are using silverware and non-disposable dishes and plates. At this point, the only items not recyclable, reusable or compostable at the resorts dining facilities are chips and candy packaging. Part of the initiative consists of the resorts involvement in Routt Countys pilot composting program.

photo by Dan Sweeney

photo by Dan Sweeney

Renewable Energy Credits

More than one-third of CSCUSA member resorts offset one hundred percent of their energy use through the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) and more than half of CSCUSA resorts offset some portion of their energy use through RECs. According to EPA estimates, these combined initiativestranslate into approximately 3,607.4 metric tons of carbon dioxidebeing offset per year.

Notably, Powderhorn offsets energy used by two of its four lifts with RECs and continues to purchase energy credits to offset energy used elsewhere around the resort. A-Basin offsets 100% of its electricity use with wind power. Telluride also strives to counterbalance its energy use with enough RECs to offset 1,000,000 kWh of electricity use each year.

This year, Winter Park purchased 800,000 KWH of renewable energy credits, adding to the resorts ongoing energy offset plan. Winter Park is steadfast in its commitment to offset the electrical consumption of its four new lifts, which the resort added in the past several years.

Additionally, Winter Park recently expanded its AREANET program to control natural gas consumption on snowmelt systems, resulting in reduction of gas consumption by 20% annually. AREANET is a unique computerized power management programdesigned by a resort employeethat allows Winter Park to monitor and control energy use. The system saves 5,000,000 KWH per year and reduces Winter Parks overall carbon footprint.

Echo Mountain

Echo Mountain

Alternative Transportation

Eldora is a strong advocate for public transportation. The ski area is the only Front Range ski resort accessible via Denvers Regional Transportation District (RTD) bus route, providing guests with a convenient, affordable, and environmentally-friendly transportation option.

Copper strives to not only provide public transportation, but to make these options even more environmentally conscious. Copper operates three Cobus 3000 buses that are nearly 60 percent more efficient than standard buses.

Wolf Creek offers guests a free ride share program managed through Guests can register to drive others or to receive a ride from people traveling to the ski area. The service is available through a link on Wolf Creeks website,

Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resorts carpool program is a major focus for the resort. Purgatory sees high participation in its employee carpool program, with incentives ranging from $7-$10 per day for employees who travel together. The resort has also recently instituted the Carpool Parking Lot, offering free close-in parking to cars with three or more people.

Arapahoe Basin also offers a lift ticket discount for those who carpool to the ski area.The discount is approximately 30% off of the ticket window price. A-Basin employees have also taken the initiative to organize carpools within their departments.

To support public transportation, the Sunlight Employee Transit System provides more than 100,000 employee passenger miles per season.

Town of Snowmass

Town of Snowmass

Environmental Community Support

Wolf Creek is a steward of the Rio Grande National Forest, where the ski area resides. As an expense to Wolf Creek, many trees that have been infested with bark beetles are being removed by helicopter to control the spread of the beetle epidemic.

Copper Mountains Ski Area Contribution Program has granted more than $75,000 to local non-profits since its inception in November 2006. Additionally, Copper has created an employee environmental fund, whereby voluntary contributions from employees are matched by Copper and the money is granted to local non-profits or tax-exempt groups conducting youth-focused community environmental projects.

One of the goals of Sunlights Vegetation Management Program is to maintain the maximum forest cover that is compatible with safe and varied skiing and snowboarding. To that end, the resort transplants native plants in specific areas of the mountain. The result of these efforts is an aesthetically appealing and ecologically benign series of managed plant communities. Additionally, where re-contouring occurs on ski trails, Sunlight Mountain Resort summer crews immediately mulch and seed with Forest Service approved grass seed mixes to protect against short-term soil erosion.

Arapahoe Basin is an advocate of local environmental organizations. The ski area matches funds that employees donate to The Continental Divide Land Trust and Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness through their Employee Environmental Fund. In addition, all proceeds from A-Basins Snowhuggers Club and Save our Snow Celebration benefit Summit Countys High Country Conservation Center.