The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) recently announced the winners of its annual Sustainable Slopes Grant Program, conceived in 2009 to foster sustainable operations and enhanced environmental performance of ski resorts across the country. This year's winners are Blue Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania, Mountain High Resort in California, POWDR Resorts in Utah (Gorgoza Park tubing hill and the planned Woodward Park City), and Snow Creek Ski Area in Missouri.
The designated grants will fund target carbon emission reductions, snowmaking improvements, lighting upgrades, and sustainability staffing in the four U.S. ski areas.
Blue Mountain will receive a $5,000 cash grant to install new LED lighting and motion-controlled night lighting in its parking lots. The resort’s parking areas border sensitive nature preserves in the Ponoco Mountains, including the Appalachian Trail. The new system will reduce lighting impact on the trail and improve safety for guests and employees.
Blue Mountain Resort is partaking in the NSAA’s Climate Challenge in the coming seasons, and the improved lighting project will help meet its carbon reduction goals. The grant was made possible by donations from Clif Bar & Company, which has contributed to the Sustainable Slopes Grant Program for nine years running.
Los Angeles County’s Mountain High Resort was awarded a high-efficiency snowmaking grant. The ski area will receive five snowmaking guns from Massachusetts-based HKD Snowmakers, valued at a total of $23,000. These low-energy guns will save the resort an estimated $4,000 per acre of snow, while reducing total energy consumption.
“We at HKD are excited to support the team at Mountain High in meeting their goal to reduce energy consumption through the use of our energy-efficient snowmaking equipment,” said Charles Santry, president of HKD Snowmakers, in a press release.
HKD Snowmakers has donated 14 snowmaking grants to the Sustainable Slopes Grant Program since its inception.
POWDR, one of the largest ski resort operators in North America, will receive a Sustainability Staffing consulting services grant at its Utah resorts. Brendle Group, a sustainability engineering and planning firm, provided the $5,000 grant to work with POWDR on its operational sustainability. Brendle Group manages the NSAA’s Climate Challenge that was created in 2011.
Snow Creek Ski Area took an in-kind grant of 10 Snow-Bright light fixtures from Ultra-Tech Lighting. The Midwest resort will install the energy-efficient lighting systems over its beginner area, which is highly utilized by night skiers.
Snow-Bright estimates savings of up to 85 percent in energy costs over traditional lighting fixtures, saving the resort in energy bills and reducing its carbon footprint. The grant is valued at $7,000.
“Ultra-Tech is pleased to provide Snow Creek with a product that will not only dramatically reduce energy use but reduce light pollution and improve the experience for night skiing guests,” said Philip Gotthelf, owner and founder of Ultra-Tech Lighting.
The annual Sustainable Slopes Grant Program has awarded over $523,000 in resort sustainability grants since its founding in 2009. Past winners of Sustainable Slopes grants include Alpine Meadows, Calif.; Arapahoe Basin, Colo.; Copper Mountain, Colo.; Crested Butte, Colo.; Mt. Bachelor, Ore.; Stevens Pass, Wash.; Stratton, Vt.; Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico; and Telluride Ski & Golf, Colo.