Two Tahoe-area ski resorts earn eco-friend grade
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Sunday, November 27, 2005 2:26 AM PST
Alpine Meadows ski area has earned a No. 4 ranking among Western U.S. ski hills for its environmental record.
The ski resort earned an A grade from the Ski Area Citizens' Coalition on the basis of a 79.4 percent score on several environmental practices, including supporting carpool programs, using alternative fuels and supporting legislative efforts to combat climate change.
A total of 77 resorts throughout the western U.S. were ranked, including 19 in California. Also in the Top 10, at No. 6, Sierra-at-Tahoe, had an A score as well.
The Durango, Colo. Coalition, which includes the Sierra Nevada Alliance of South Lake Tahoe in its membership, is concerned that global warming will have a negative impact on the ski season and the ski industry should do more to reduce emissions and combat climate change. The report card for western ski resorts is intended for use by environmentally conscious skiers when they choose a resort at which to buy a season pass. Citing the National Ski Area Association's Keep Winter Cool program to fight global warming, the coalition's research director said more can be done.
"When you look at the numbers, it is clear that the ski industry's performance on global warming doesn't match its rhetoric," said the coalition's Ben Doon. "Global warming could reduce the ski season in the Sierra Nevada by three to six weeks over the next 50 years yet less than half of the ski resorts have programs to reduce their emissions."
Jody Churich, spokesman for both Alpine and Boreal ski resorts, said operators work closely with the U.S. Forest Service on building and expansion projects. The Forest Service owns the Alpine Meadows property and part of Boreal.
"We're doing everything we can on both mountains to be good stewards in the environment," Churich said. "We plan to continue to do that."
In addition to actions to reduce greenhouse gases, the resorts are scored for protection of old growth forests, impacts to alpine wildlife and use of water for snowmaking.
"Unfortunately, resorts efforts seem to be leveling off," said Demmy Bidwell, executive director of coalition member Colorado Wild. "There are great opportunities for both environmental improvement and long-term cost savings. I hope the industry will live up to its commitment."
The complete scorecard and detailed information on California and Nevada resorts is available at http://www.skiareacitizens.com.
Boreal earned a B rating for a 68.7 percent score on ratings. Other area hills in the rankings included Kirkwood (D), Northstar-at-Tahoe (D), Squaw Valley USA (B), and Sugar Bowl (C).
The Ski Environmental Scorecard's Top 10 list of "Most Environmentally Friendly Ski Resorts":
1. Aspen Mountain Ski Resort, Colorado
2. Buttermilk Ski Resort, Colorado
3. Sundance Resort, Utah
4. Alpine Meadows, California
5. Mount Bachelor, Oregon
6. Sierra-at-Tahoe, California
7. Bogus Basin Mountain Resort, Idaho
8. Aspen Highlands, Colorado
9. Wolf Creek Ski Area, Colorado
10. Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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