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Environmentalism by Ski Hills

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Reading that article about Vail's investment in wind power (http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=42603) got me thinking about sustainable efforts at other resorts. I've only been able to ski around my neck of the woods up here (Banff-Fernie-Kicking Horse, etc.), I was wondering if anyone else has good examples of environmentalism displayed by resorts you've been to.

The best example I've seen is at Sunshine, where they've installed water free urinals in all of the mens washrooms (http://www.falconwaterfree.com/flash.htm). At each stall they have a sign claiming that it saves ~ 40000 gallons of water, per urinal, per year. It's the only place I've ever seen them in the whole world, and it's really nice to see someone in one of the largest water consuming industries make an investment in conservation like this. Oddly enough I prefer to ski at Lake Louise (Sunshine's main competitor), but I still have respect for the hill.

Another example is at Kicking Horse, where they provide a large enclosure habitat for a grizzly bear who's mother had been killed by a train. He was still a cub and would be unable to fend for himself if reintroduced into the wild, though in the last few months he has managed to escape his pen in search of some lady bear lovin'. It's nice to see Kicking Horse using it's area and resources to help out a bear in need. If you're lucky, you can even catch a glimpse of the bear on your way up the gondola.

Do any other hills out there deserve to be recognized for doing good stuff like this?

Edit: Examples of poor environmental practices could be mentioned too...
post #2 of 25
Alta has the falcon urinals as well
post #3 of 25
Theres this article on using treated sewage for snow making
It's actually a great idea

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117...-29277,00.html
post #4 of 25
Killington tried that, using treated effluent for snowmaking 20 years ago. Seems the higher nitrate level was too good for the green growing things including algea in the lakes and ponds and they somehow got shot down. I honestly don't know the current status but back in the mid '80s it gave a whole new meaning to "Don't eat yellow (or brown) snow."
post #5 of 25
^^Always wondered what happened to that^^

Clivus Multrum is pretty common. The advantage is that you can put 'em on mountaintops without digging in running water pipes. I'm still deciding whether its environmentally better on the part of individuals to save up until there's a chance of using one.

Anyone know the full story of the 90 degree corner of Excelerator chair at Copper Mtn.?
post #6 of 25
post #7 of 25
Thanks Bunion for posting the link to the NSAA sustainable slopes initiative. NSAA is an American organization. If you follow that link, you will find not only the charter documenting the general approaches for resorts to improve their impact on the environment but also the annual reports detailing specific examples of what has been done.

At Whitetail (PA), many of the environmentally friendly practices have simply been good business. The snowmaking system is 97% efficient with respect to water usage (most of the 3% loss is seepage into the ground which is where you want it to go). The snowmaking pond traps sediments. The original design of the area protected wetlands by raising structures over areas and building around runoff zones and included water bars across the slopes to control erosion. We are constantly in search of more energy efficient snow making. We also recently switched to a new ticket design that eliminates "ticket back" trash (they cost less but have a higher risk of fraud). The real estate operation included geothermal heating/cooling, special water management features and enviro friendly provisions in the homeowners rules.

Yet for each of the nice items on the "aren't we good boys" list, there are at least 10 more that aren't being done. Some ideas have been tried and abandoned (e.g. recycling). Some ideas may have dubious benefit (e.g. clearing out the mini pond to trap more sediment and reintroduce trout, planting more grass on the trail to better feed the rampantly overpopulated deer, cutting the trail grass more often to stimulate growth/ control erosion better at the expense of mower use of fuel and pollution, saving french fry grease for biodiesel use in groomers - but biodiesel does not work well in cold weather). But the bottom line is that the sustainable slopes idea should be an ongoing thing that is part of the everyday operation of the resort.

This is also an area where we, as consumers, can help too. People are more apt to drop trash in areas that already have trash lying about. Picking up trash helps to reduce this. Seeking out, using and encouraging other to properly use recycling containers will help. Making at least an attempt to pee in proper facilities instead of watering the trees also helps (btw peeing in the woods in the Cottonwood canyons can earn you a big fine). There are lots of ways to help.
post #8 of 25

Arizona Snowbowl and "Treated Sewage"

Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff Arizona was only open one day last year due to lack of snow. They have been trying to get permission to use treated sewage in their snowmaking equipment so they could be open more often. The problem is, the Native Americans in the area consider the mountains sacred and won't allow it. I sympathize with the Native Americans, but it sure would be nice if Snowbowl could be open more. I skied there once and it was a nice little place. Besides, it's closer to Tucson than Sunrise in the White Mountains. I haven't heard anything about it lately, but I think they're still working on an agreement.
post #9 of 25

Arizona Snowbowl - Updated Info

I went to the Arizona Snowbowl website and found that they will start using reclaimed water for snowmaking THIS YEAR. Here is a link to an article in the Arizona Republic.


http://www.arizonasnowbowl.com/pdfs/..._editorial.pdf
post #10 of 25
The problem with using effluent water is the sodium levels are extremely high unless you use expensive methods to remove or limit them. Water is treated with chlorine which adds salt. As people use, drink, ect. water, more salt gets added. The water goes to the wastewater plant with higher sodium levels than when it was treated. As a last step, many wastewater treatment plants use clorine disinfection. This adds even more salt. We use efflunt water for our golf course. It is great for growing grass, but will kill a pine or cedar tree if it is sprayed directly on it. I would imagine this is the problem Killington experienced.
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex
Anyone know the full story of the 90 degree corner of Excelerator chair at Copper Mtn.?
Huh? I don't understand. Is there some environmental reason for it? Is that what you're getting at?

I always assumed it was that way because of how the maze is constructed. You have to feed people into the lift from the west because it's the only ground you can construct a maze on. Believe it or not, the north (downhill) side of the lift is a really steep dropoff into a creekbed. You don't notice it in the winter, but you need about 10 feet of snow to fill it in properly. By shifting the maze over to the west they can build it on about a 1' base. You need to do that because we open in October for race camps.
post #12 of 25
Yes; I remember a big birds-chirping environment sign next to it. So the awareness consists of not bridging it and piping creekwater underground?
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stache
Killington tried that, using treated effluent for snowmaking 20 years ago. Seems the higher nitrate level was too good for the green growing things including algea in the lakes and ponds and they somehow got shot down. I honestly don't know the current status but back in the mid '80s it gave a whole new meaning to "Don't eat yellow (or brown) snow."
Isn't it "don't drink the blue Water"... Posted in all the bathrooms at Killington....
post #14 of 25
Ski Area Citizens' Coalition is the watchdog group for western ski areas
http://www.skiareacitizens.com/
There isn't a counter part yet for areas elsewhere in the USA. The NSAA's Sustainable Slopes initiative is a well-intentioned effort and a real step in the right direction. The real issue IMHO is real estate development in mountain environments rather than actual ski area operation. It is just very difficult to site a whole bunch of condos and freestanding homes with driveways, septic systems etc in a high mountain environment without impacting the mountain ecology.
I'd be curious to know what's going on with this elsewhere in the world, especially Australia & NZ where some real progress in sustainable development has been happening.
post #15 of 25
The real issue IMHO is real estate development in mountain environments rather than actual ski area operation.

Yes and no.

If done right, the ski area development can have a very small impact. If done incorrectly, the ski area development can be catastrophic.

Real estate is much more difficult to determine. So much development takes place alongside the ski areas and the ski areas may have little or no say in the densities, planning and impacts. In essence, the ski area is the engine that can drive the real estate development but the ski area has no steering wheel.

FWIW, I have come to believe the the Ski Area Citizens Coalition is biased against all development and weights their ratings to reflect that stance.
post #16 of 25

Snow Waste Coming True?

Sounds like Snow Waste (http://www.snowwaste.com), the novel, coming true!
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn View Post
Huh? I don't understand. Is there some environmental reason for it? Is that what you're getting at?

I always assumed it was that way because of how the maze is constructed. You have to feed people into the lift from the west because it's the only ground you can construct a maze on. Believe it or not, the north (downhill) side of the lift is a really steep dropoff into a creekbed. You don't notice it in the winter, but you need about 10 feet of snow to fill it in properly. By shifting the maze over to the west they can build it on about a 1' base. You need to do that because we open in October for race camps.
It's the creek that is the environmental reason. One of the guys that mentioned it to me called it a wetlands, with the idea that keeping it 90 degrees allows the water flow to remain the same.

I have no idea whether or not that's true, but the person who mentioned it was a longtime Copper staffer.
post #18 of 25
I've heard the Ski Area Citizens' Coalition accused of being anti-development before and that may be true but honestly I'd rather err on the side of environmentalism than destroy the mountains. Not a popular stance around here I'm sure. I do believe that building, expanding, and operating ski areas will not threaten mountain environments as much as the accompanying real estate development and population influx which, as bunion points out, is usually beyond the control of the ski area.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by NewHampie View Post
I've heard the Ski Area Citizens' Coalition accused of being anti-development before and that may be true but honestly I'd rather err on the side of environmentalism than destroy the mountains. Not a popular stance around here I'm sure. I do believe that building, expanding, and operating ski areas will not threaten mountain environments as much as the accompanying real estate development and population influx which, as bunion points out, is usually beyond the control of the ski area.
It's important to keep the lid on development in the mountains. Look at the access road, Killington.

I also feel strongly about golf courses in Vermont. Jay Peak put one in in the wilderness. That's poor planning and bad behavior. They prefer country club to wilderness.

Also, Jiminy Peak is putting in a wind power tower. I don't care for wind power in the mountains but the roads and placement make sense. When the wind blows they will be making a lot of snow!

Mad River Glen has a a lot going on. Reforestation is one example. They rope off areas on the trails and let the trees grow. I like that.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post
They prefer country club to wilderness.
Actually, they prefer $$$$$$$ to wilderness. :
post #21 of 25
Seems like anything goes, lately.
post #22 of 25
I think that on a limited basis, development is fine and is needed. I don't mind the K-Mart access road. It's a fun place to hang out. It makes K-Mart into an actual resort. That road supports a lot of small businesses. Now, if an actual Wal Mart was to open on the access road, I may have an issue. There needs to be some progress and development to keep people employed and to sustain the ski areas. I wouldn't want all ski areas to be nothing but day areas with no infrastructure. But too many would also be a problem. I don't think I'd want to see MRG go the way of K-Mart.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH View Post
Now, if an actual Wal Mart was to open on the access road, I may have an issue.
Tree hugger

The access road is the best argument for need for planning that exists in Vermont. The place is butchered. It is true that there are fun things to do on the access road, but it didn't have to be destroyed the way it was. It looks like a waste land in the heart of the Green Mountains. And Killington - don't get me started on that freakin disaster. Remember the old days when the trails were steep, narrow, vermont like trails. Now the place looks like an airport!

Somebody should be serving time for that mess!
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post
Tree hugger

The access road is the best argument for need for planning that exists in Vermont. The place is butchered. It is true that there are fun things to do on the access road, but it didn't have to be destroyed the way it was. It looks like a waste land in the heart of the Green Mountains. And Killington - don't get me started on that freakin disaster. Remember the old days when the trails were steep, narrow, vermont like trails. Now the place looks like an airport!

Somebody should be serving time for that mess!
Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel!
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjohansson View Post
Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel!
Fun place to ski though!
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