For 10 years, the Ski Area Citizens Coalition has published its ski area environmental report card, a rating system that grades ski resorts across the west according to their impact on the natural environment.
Paul Joyce, a conservation associate at the environmental protection group Colorado Wild, says a ski resort’s grade depends on how well it plays in its own backyard.
“When a ski area expands into the back country, expands into habitat, affects wildlife, affects vegetation, thereby affecting water, watersheds, water quality,” Joyce said, “those things weigh really heavy with the report card.”
Resorts owned by the Aspen Skiing Company dominate the highest rated resorts in the west.
“People listen to us in part because we’re an interesting news story, but also because we’re business people.,” Auden Schendler, environmental affairs director at Aspen Skiing. “Ultimately we’re not environmentalists. We’re business people. And we see climate changes as an existential threat to business.
In this edition of This American Land we explore ski resorts that employ environmentally sustainable practices to protect natural areas that surround their slopes.