to the 2012-2013 Ski Area
Ski Resort Expansion is Back in the West
Ski Area Environmental Scorecard Urges Presidents' Day Skiers to Choose A-list Resorts
This Presidents' Day weekend (the busiest ski resort weekend of the year), skiers and snowboarders are urged to choose their resort with the newly released Ski Area Environmental Scorecard, compiled by the Sierra Nevada Alliance on behalf of the Ski Area Citizens' Coalition. Sadly, the 11th annual scorecard finds that 32% of ski resorts throughout the western United States are expanding into new terrain, leading to lower grades for environmental performance, according to the newly released Scorecard.
Nearly one-third of all western ski resorts surveyed (twenty-seven out of eighty-four) expanded their buildings, ski runs, or associated facilities, and most of those expansions intruded into public lands with long-term impacts on wildlife habitat and the region's water resources. This is a 300% increase in the number of resorts expanding compared to last year when only six resorts expanded their footprints. While the Ski Area Scorecard grades resorts on a variety of criteria, significant intrusion into new territory generally leads to a lower score, while expansion onto existing disturbed areas does not.
here for the 2012-2013 National press release
here for the 2012-2013 California/Nevada press release
here for the 2012-2013 Rocky Mountain press release
here for the 2012-2013 Washington/Oregon press release
here for Frequently Asked Questions and see "HOW WE GRADE" at the top of this page
here for last year's (2011-2012) scorecards
Instead of focusing on one general score, the scorecard was broken down into four individual
categories and an overall score. The four new categories are:
The Report Card got a makeover in 2010
Global Climate Change
Practices and Policies.
The new categories help grade more accurately the environmental
impacts of ski area operations.
About the Ski Area Citizens' Coalition
The Ski Area Citizens' Coalition works to promote environmental
stewardship. By evaluating ski area responsiveness to the needs of
environmental stewardship, local communities, and the recreational public in a
manner that is consistent to changing economic and environmental policies, we
can potentially influence current business practices and trends to be
increasingly more eco-friendly.
Staff and Volunteers and of SACC are skiers themselves, and
recognize skiing and mountain recreations as a valid and great use of public
lands. The experiences, enjoyment, and memories that are created through the
use of public lands cannot be monetarily measured; they are invaluable.
As Theodore Roosevelt noted, "To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to
skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness,
will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity
which we thought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed."
This year we enlisted help from Anna Olsen, a student and skier splitting her time between Big Sky, Montana and Lake Tahoe, California.
Ski Area Report Card Highlighted in Academic Studies
In 2012, researchers from Brock University in ontario, Canada published an academic journal article that compares the environmental communications of ski resorts with their actual environmental performance using the Scorecard as a measure of environmental performance.
The purpose of this research was to examine the safeguarding of the natural environment, or environmental sustainability (ES), in sport by studying the level of environmentally responsible actions for ski resorts in the USA. The report can be found here.
George Washington University Professor Jorge Rivera and University
of Denver Professor Peter de Leon published a study of ski industry
environmental impacts and the National Ski Area Association's Sustainable
Slopes program in the Policy Studies Journal (Vol. 32, No. 3,
2004) entitled "Is Greener Whiter? Voluntary Environmental
Performance of Western Ski Areas."
The study validated many issues that the
conservation community has had of the ski industry's voluntary environmental
program, and confirmed that the Ski Area
Environmental Report Card is an accurate and useful third-party tool to gauge
ski resorts' environmental policies and management. A follow up study published
in 2006 titled "Is Greener Whiter Yet?
The Sustainable Slopes Program after Five Years"
found similar results.