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Ski Resorts Get Grades for Environmental Practices

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

# Name Grade
1 (A) Squaw Valley USA – California 89.2%
2 (A) Park City Mountain Resort – Utah 86.5%
3 (A) Alpine Meadows Ski Area – California 86.2%
4 (A) Aspen Mountain Ski Resort – Colorado 84.3%
5 (A) Aspen Highlands Ski Resort – Colorado 84.0%
6 (A) Buttermilk Mountain Ski Resort – Colorado 83.9%
7 (A) Deer Valley Resort – Utah 83.0%
8 (A) Jackson Hole Mountain Resort – Wyoming 82.6%
9 (A) Sundance Resort – Utah 82.2%
10 (A) Bogus Basin Mountain Resort – Idaho 81.3%

Worst 10:

# Name Grade
1 (D) Breckenridge Ski Resort – Colorado 41.3%
2 (D) Sun Valley Resort – Idaho 48.3%
3 (D) Arizona Snowbowl – Arizona 51.9%
4 (D) Taos Ski Valley – New Mexico 52.2%
5 (D) White Pass Ski Area – Washington 52.6%
6 (D) Copper Mountain Ski Resort – Colorado 54.5%
7 (D) Brundage Mountain Resort – Idaho 55.0%
8 (C) Solitude Mountain Resort – Utah 56.4%
9 (D) Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard – Nevada 57.3%
10 (C) Brian Head Resort – Utah 58.1%

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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