Ski Resorts Release Environmental Report

LAKEWOOD, Colo.—The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) today released its first ever “Sustainable Slopes Annual Report” detailing the ski industry’s progress in implementing the Environmental Charter for Ski Areas, adopted last June. The Environmental Charter, commonly referred to as “Sustainable Slopes” is a collection of environmental best practices for resorts in 21 areas including water conservation, fish and wildlife habitat protection, energy conservation, waste reduction and air quality. About 170 resorts have endorsed the Environmental Charter to date, representing more than 71 percent of the U.S. ski industry by skier visits.

Resorts used an “assessment tool” to measure their progress in implementing environmental best practices for purposes of the Annual Report. Approximately ninety (90) resorts from 28 states completed the assessment this spring, which required resorts to answer more than 200 questions and submit limited quantitative environmental data. Results were compiled and analyzed by The Brendle Group, an environmental consulting firm in Fort Collins, Colo. The assessment results were then used to: (1) identify areas where resorts have successfully implemented the Charter’s Environmental Principles; (2) identify opportunities for improvement in the future; (3) help set future goals for data collection; (4) help the industry’s environmental partners determine where to focus future resources and expertise; and (5) share information on environmental successes among resorts.

“Resorts across the country are well on their way to implementing environmental practices and programs that will ensure a sustainable future,” said NSAA’s president, Michael Berry. “The Charter is facilitating the sharing of environmental information among resorts that will bring the entire industry forward together and ultimately benefit the environment. The Annual Report results demonstrate the resort industry’s strong commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Berry.

The four areas that resorts scored the highest include: protecting scenic values or “visual quality”; properly managing forests and vegetation; planning designing and constructing facilities in an environmentally sensitive manner; and properly handling potentially hazardous waste. The four areas that resorts need to improve on in the future include: energy use for vehicle fleets, energy use for lifts, reusing products to reduce waste, and environmental education and outreach. In addition to these findings, the Report indicates that among reporting resorts: 

? 75 percent engage stakeholders collaboratively on the siting of improvements such as new facilities or lifts;
 ? 85 percent minimize the removal of trees through the careful siting and design of ski trails;
 ? 83 percent apply sound on-mountain construction practices such as over-snow transport techniques; storm water control, or phasing of activities to minimize disturbances to natural habitats; 
 ? 90 percent use high efficiency snow guns and air compressors for snowmaking operations;
 ? 95 percent revegetate disturbed areas as quickly as possible following disturbances;
 ? 83 percent are inventorying and monitoring wetland and riparian areas;
 ? 85 percent planting trees or other vegetation to improve visual quality;
 ? 85 percent provide shuttles or transportation for guests and employees;
 ? 78 percent purchase recycled products; and
   ? 85 percent are recycling office paper, cardboard, newspaper, aluminum, glass, plastic, and food service waste.

The Annual Report also highlights the contributions of the ski industry’s partners in the Charter over the past year, including: the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment; Conservation Law Foundation; U.S. Dept. of Energy; U.S. Environment Protection Agency; USDA Forest Service; Leave No Trace; The Mountain Institute; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; National Park Service Concession Program; 2002 Olympics Salt Lake City Organizing Committee; Teton County, Wyoming; and the Trust for Public Land.

“Not only did our partners provide valuable feedback on the assessment tool and the Annual Report, they also helped resorts throughout this first season by sharing expertise, fostering data collection, providing environmental training, and assisting with outreach on the Sustainable Slopes program,” said NSAA’s Director of Public Policy, Geraldine Link. “We want to thank our partners as their expertise and support will continue to guide us in the right direction.”

A copy of the 110-page Sustainable Slopes Annual Report is available on the “Consumer” side of NSAA’s website at www.nsaa.org under “Environmental Charter.”

The National Ski Areas Association serves as the trade association for ski area owners and operators. The association began in 1962 and is located in Lakewood, Colorado.