Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Looking more like the boy next door than a powerful pundit, this 26 year old from San Francisco has become a leading force in America’s environmental movement. When he was just 8,
took a Sierra Club petition to school and gathered 200 crayon-scrawled signatures. At age 23, he became the youngest president ever of the 550,000-member Sierra Club. Now Werbach, a diehard skier, is host of The Thin Green Line, a new television show on the Outdoor Life Network devoted to environmental issues.
Born January 15, 1973 (age 26)
First Time “I grew up in Southern California and went skiing with my family when I was 9. I had never seen snow before and I was fascinated by it. I love skiing. There’s something so otherworldly about it¿floating on top of the snow.”
Balancing Act “Ski areas do expose more people to the glory of our national forests. People come back to the city a little more human after they’ve been to a high alpine area. But is it worth the price? I think it can be if ski area development is done right. That’s the quandary.”
Developing Problems “Ski areas are more environmentally responsible than they used to be, but they’re still not doing enough.”
Three Commandments “There are places where ski areas should not be, period. Second, ski areas have to stop acting like they’re Disneyland. They’re in a national forest and have to treat the land with more respect. Third, it’s a privilege to use that land and the U.S. Forest Service should be better compensated.”
No Easy Answer “Eco-terrorism such as the Vail arson last fall isn’t the answer. On the other hand, I know more of this will happen. You have people who are really, really passionate. And you also have companies who aren’t beginning a dialogue with those people.”
Lift Your Voices “In general, skiers are not taking enough responsibility for the mountains they love. To me, it’s a basic principle that people who use something have a higher responsibility to protect it. Skiers need to make their voices heard.”