Ski Resort The Ski Area Citizens Coalition has made a list, checked it several times and published it on the Web: The Worst Ten Ski Resorts. Based on various environmentally friendly criteria, the coalition issued a 2009/2010 environmental report card for 83 ski resorts across the western United States. The ski resorts were given the grade based on the following: Habitat protection (104 possible points), protecting watersheds (35 points), addressing global climate change (50 points) and environmental policies and practices (41 points). With the most points being rewarded for maintaining the current footprint being made, the report rewards maintenance more than a step in the right direction. So, in other words, failing the report is hard to do. None of them failed, although 15 did receive a grade of D. Here are the 10 least green:
  1. Breckenridge Ski Resort (CO) — 41.5%
  2. Copper Mountain Ski Resort (CO) — 45%
  3. White Pass Ski Area (WA) — 47%
  4. Sun Valley Resort (ID) — 47.4%
  5. Arizona Sunbowl (AZ) — 47.4%
  6. Brundage Mountain Resort (ID) — 49.3%
  7. Crystal Mountain Ski Area (WA) — 51.6%
  8. Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard (NV) — 53.9%
  9. Brian Head Resort (UT) — 54%
  10. Silver Mountain Ski Resort (ID) — 54.8%
The worst 10 took the same D grade, but many did well in one area only to fail in another. In some resorts, marks for environmental policies and practices were especially high. Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, for instance, received a grade of A in that category. Its downfall? An F for habitat protection. Other resorts did poorly in the two categories most important to the efforts of environmental sustainability. Silver Mountain Ski Resort in Idaho, for instance, flat out failed in the areas of addressing global climate change and in environmental policies and practices. Out with the bad, now in with the good. The Top 10 Greenest Resorts (all receiving A’s) were also given their day in the (not too hot) sun.
  • Squaw Valley USA (CA)
  • Aspen Mountain Ski Resort (CO)
  • Buttermilk Mountain Ski Resort (CO)
  • Sugar Bowl Ski Resort (CA)
  • Sundance Resort (UT)
  • Alpine Meadows Ski Area (CA)
  • Park City Mountain Resort (UT)
  • Bogus Basin Mountain Resort (ID)
  • Aspen Highlands Ski Resort (CO)
  • Powderhorn Resort (CO)
Still outraged by the resorts failing the green movement? The Ski Area Citizens Coalition provides an online form with a premade essay. Those who want to comment can easily modify the form to fit their critique. Currently, the form leaves a lasting imprint: “Ski areas need to take seriously cutting global warming causing emissions and supporting clean, renewable energy sources. Few industries have more to lose from global climate change caused by excessive greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere than the ski industry.” What else can you do? Put your money where your mouth is — but, don’t worry; not too much of it! Visiting a green resort near you at a competitive and affordable price may soon be possible, according to Ryan Bidwell, Director of environmental group Colorado Wild. The unfortunate recession has some developers looking into the expansion of back country resorts — leading to bidding that is likely to work out in the consumer’s favor. But, the stiff competition will also be going through a rigorous process —no fragile alpine will be touched and no habitats threatened in the process — thanks to new Geo software. In a December 2009 article published in New Scientist magazine, news was revealed about the software: “To use their geographical information system (GIS) you first enter the type of business model the developer is seeking: a small, exclusive resort, or a large, mass market venue.” The system is revolutionizing the process for clearing the development of a resort. Among the considered factors: electricity availability to power the ski lifts (including energy-saving possibilities), accessibility by road and slope steepness (to determine the risk of avalanches) and the likelihood of major erosion from tree felling. Bidwell mentions hope that new software will be able to stop a potential environmental problem before it starts. “This GIS model may be better suited to investigating what, if any, additional expansion of existing ski areas may be justified,” Bidwell says. No iPhone in hand? Consult your senses, says Green Living magazine in a Top 10 list titled “Is It Truly ‘Green’?” Testing the eco-consciousness of a green ski resort includes checking for a written policy regarding the environment and finding what locals have done specifically to help protect the environment and support conservation. No matter what you chose to focus on when selecting a green resort, don’t forget to think about number 10 on the list: How might you get involved during your stay with locals and their conservation efforts in a way that is worthwhile and rewarding for both you and the destination? Now that’s a planned, peaceful vacation.