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Ski resorts barely make eco grade

The Digest | BRIEFS

December 09, 2003|Charles Duhigg

Choosing an environmentally friendly ski resort got more complicated last week after a coalition of environmental organizations released its annual Ski Area Environmental Scorecard.

The Ski Area Citizens' Coalition, a collection of 24 groups, evaluated the environmental and development activities of 76 U.S. ski resorts since 2000. The average grade for Western ski resorts, a middling C+, is higher than in prior years. But ski industry executives say the group's report is unfairly weighted against growth and is inconsequential.

Although the report examines recycling, water and energy policies, 70% of each grade is determined by a resort's expansion in the last five years. Industry executives argue that expansion is an unfair gauge. "We're striving to focus on sustainability in energy, water and recycling," said Geraldine Link of the National Ski Areas Assn. "But we are businesses. We can't pledge we'll never grow."

Joan Clayburgh, of the Sierra Nevada Alliance and a director of the coalition, hopes the report will "call attention to resorts that are growing in ways that have less of an impact on the environment."

-- Charles Duhigg

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