Tuesday, February 22, 2005
A recent abundance of snow has packed the Steamboat Ski Area's parking lots, and that's a good sign for ski area managers. However, Steamboat is offering incentives Saturday to cut down on the number of cars in the remote lot.
Skiers and riders who take mass transit to the slopes Saturday, or arrive at least three to a car, will have their names entered in a drawing for lift tickets, ski and snowboard lessons and ski merchandise.
The initiative is part of the ski area's recognition of "Sustainable Slopes Day."
"Carpooling or using mass transit reduces CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases," ski area director of environmental affairs Lyn Halliday said.
A one-day program to reduce the number of vehicles driving to the ski area won't save the planet, but Halliday hopes a variety of programs Saturday will draw attention to the ski area's efforts to operate in an environmentally responsible way. Steamboat officials announced in June 2003 that the ski area would purchase sufficient wind-generated electricity to power its new Burgess Creek chairlift. The electricity is generated at a wind farm in southern Wyoming.
"Purchasing renewable energy is a natural extension of our sustainability initiatives and is a great way to increase the supply of renewable energy facilities nationwide," Halliday said.
She added that Steamboat has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership for its efforts, which have contributed to bringing additional renewable energy to market.
The Ski Area Citizens Coalition, an environmental watchdog group based in Durango, gives Steamboat a letter grade of "C," just shy of a "B," on its environmental report card. However, the group's Web page (skiareacitizens.com) hasn't been upgraded to reflect Steamboat's use of wind power. Based on the SACC's published criteria and the ski area's claim that 3 percent of its demand for electricity comes from green sources, Steamboat qualifies for a B.
Steamboat earned a cumulative score of 62.8 percent from SACC. A score of 65 percent would boost it into the B range. The only Colorado ski areas to score As are Wolf Creek, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk. Colorado ski areas earning Bs include Eldora Mountain, Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area and Winter Park.
The environmental report card evaluates ski areas throughout the west on 29 criteria and assigns points for each category.
Steamboat scored the highest possible 12 points for preserving water quality and the highest possible 22 points for "protecting or maintaining threatened or endangered species habitat."
However, Steamboat was docked 20 points for the sale of 52 acres near the base area to Resort Ventures LLC, the developer of the Wildhorse Market projects.
Other events being held in connection with Sustainable Slopes Day include a series of three eco-tours leaving from the top of Vagabond ski run at 10:30, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.
Sustainable Slopes is a program of the National Ski Areas Association.
-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205
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