Is growth a bad thing? Maybe, if you’re a ski resort.
The Ski Area Citizens Coalition released their annual Environmental Scorecard this week. Park City Mountain Resort got the top score, a 93, including a full 100 percent for their water use. Arizona Snowbowl finished last, scoring poorly for addressing climate change and environmental accountability.
The SACC has been ranking resorts based on their environmental practices, including habitat protection and waste stream management, for 11 years. They’re trying to get people to choose which resorts they visit based on the ski area’s environmental footprint. For instance, if you live in Colorado, Aspen Highlands was the sixth most sustainable ski area while Breckenridge was the second worst.
This year, resort growth and land use were the big deal breakers. Thirty-two percent of ski resorts in the West expanded, or announced planned expansions this year, which docked their scores significantly, particularly if they were impacting new terrain.
“Not all resort expansions are the same,” noted Gavin Feiger of the Sierra Nevada Alliance. “Some resorts significantly expand their facilities in an environmentally friendly way, such as placing new buildings on old parking lots.”
In the decade since the SACC has been ranking resorts based on their environmental health, nearly every ski area they look at has made strides to shrink their footprint, even if it’s just shrinking their waste stream. The report is also a baseline for academic studies about the sustainability of skiing.
You can read the full report here.