LAKEWOOD, Colo. (press rlelease) - According to an NSAA study released today, the vast majority of American ski resorts pursue environmentally responsible practices in construction and operations.
The organization today released its second "Sustainable Slopes Annual Report" detailing the ski industry's progress in implementing its Environmental Charter for Ski Areas over the past season.
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. 173 resorts have endorsed the Environmental Charter to date, representing more than 72% of the U.S. ski industry by skier/snowboarder visits.
Resorts used an assessment tool to measure their progress in implementing environmental best practices for purposes of the Annual Report. Ninety resorts from 26 states completed the assessment this spring, which required resorts to answer more than 200 questions and submit quantitative environmental data. The Brendle Group, an environmental consulting firm in Fort Collins, Colo., spearheaded the data collection and analysis efforts. 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.
According to NSAA Director of Public Policy Geraldine Link, "Sustainable Slopes 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."
NSAA President Michael Berry agrees, "Resorts across the country continue to succeed in implementing environmental practices and programs that will ensure a sustainable future." The four areas that resorts scored the highest include: protecting scenic values or "visual quality"; reducing water use for snowmaking; 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:
- 79% are engaging stakeholders collaboratively on siting improvements, such as new facilities or lifts.
- 85% are minimizing the removal of trees by carefully siting and designing ski trails.
- 95% are applying sound on-mountain construction practices, such as over-snow transport techniques, stormwater control, or phasing of activities to minimize disturbances to natural habitats.
- 83% are installing water efficient equipment in facilities, such as low-flow faucets and toilets.
- 85% are using high-efficiency snow guns and air compressors for snowmaking operations.
- 83% are inventorying and monitoring wetland and riparian areas.
- 85% are planting trees or other vegetation to improve visual quality.
- 90% are providing shuttles or transportation for guests and employees.
- 90% are recycling office paper, cardboard, newspaper, aluminum, glass, plastic and food service waste. /ul>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 Insttitute; 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.
A copy of the 81-page Sustainable Slopes Annual Report is available on NSAA's website, www.nsaa.org . Click on the "Industry Information & Resources" and then on "Environmental Charter" (left column). Also located on the website is NSAA's on-line environmental database for ski areas, named the "Green Room."
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.