The Ski Area Citizens Coalition (www.skiareacitizens.com) has been publishing the Ski Area Environmental Report Card for the past 10 years. The report evaluates the environmental policies and practices of ski areas in the western U.S. based on a system of 35 criteria including: preservation of sensitive lands within the ski resort area, actions related to water conservation and quality, and demonstrated commitment to green programs such as recycling and alternative energy use.
This year’s report shows weak scores from resorts around the west when it comes to climate change and energy polices. Overall, resorts averaged the low grade of a ‘D’ in the climate change category. Many resorts lost points because of unsubstantial use of biodiesel as fuel for diesel vehicles or other equipment. Resorts also lost points for not purchasing alternative energy offsets, such as wind, solar and geothermal.
“Some resorts that scored points for buying renewable energy credits last year lost those points this year because they discontinued the program”, said Paul Joyce, Research Director at Colorado Wild. “In some cases it sounded like it was a cost cutting measure. We recognize that economic drivers are real, but we also recognize that ski resorts will likely be one of the most impacted industries by climate change. As such, resorts should be a leader in showcasing awareness and conscious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
In contrast, the industry as a whole did much better when evaluated in the categories of habitat and watershed protection. Of the 83 resorts evaluated, 57 scored a ‘B’ or better for their habitat protection policies and 60 resorts scored a ‘B’ or better for their watershed protection policies. For those highest scoring resorts this meant little or no disturbance of sensitive watershed or habitat areas, and no documented water quality violations. Such good individual marks in these categories helped bring up the ski industry average as well. This year the average resort saw an improvement in their overall score of 6 percent.
Check out your local hill at www.skiareacitizens.com