Maintain The Mountain
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I love winter sports in the mountains, but I've heard that ski resorts take a high toll on the environment. Is there anything I can do to minimize the impact of my stay at a ski resort?
Trying to find an environmentally friendly ski resort is a bit like saying there is such a thing as a safe tan. In both cases, the damage has already been done and must now be minimized. Don't forget that before being pruned and primped, a ski hill was a wild mountain with its own ecosystems that were razored so we could swish down the slopes. Logging, erosion and fuel emissions are all slopeside casualties of this growing industry. In various parts of the U.S. ski acreage has more than doubled since 1985.
- Your impact would be much lower if you just rented a chalet and went snowshoeing or cross-country skiing;
- Nevertheless, a chalet can be lonely and you may want lessons, rental equipment and the chance to meet new people who like the outdoors. The good news is that ski hills have a vested interest in preventing climate change, so many are trying to do something about it;
- The National Resources Defense Council and The National Ski Areas Association have teamed up in a promotional campaign called "Keep Winter Cool." Their goal is to raise awareness about eco-friendly practices. Examples of practices to ask about include:
- Renewable energy sources: Several hills in the U.S., such as Aspen, have switched to wind power for operating lifts. Apsen also buys carbon offsets;
- Incentives for eco-friendly customers: Sundance (Utah) gives discounts to customers who carpooled in to the resort;
- Protection of surrounding habitat: In Canada, the Whistler Blackcomb Resort garnered the"Best in a Mountain Environment" First Choice Responsible Tourism Award for its funding of local habitat and watershed restoration projects.