International award honors Skico’s environmental work |

International award honors Skico’s environmental work

The Aspen Skiing Co. has become the first ski resort ever to win a British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow award, a prestigious honor granted for environmental achievement.

British Airways presents the awards annually to tourism industry organizations in five regions of the globe, recognizing them for their contributions toward the local natural and cultural environment. The aim of the awards is to encourage action to protect the environment across the whole range of tourism organizations.

The Skico was the winner of the regional award for the Americas, as well as the Longhaul Special award. The Longhaul is given annually to a project or operation receiving more than 200,000 visitors annually, while still fulfilling the criteria of the Tourism for Tomorrow awards.

The five regional winners were selected from among 115 applicants from 41 countries. The Tourism for Tomorrow award have been presented annually since 1989, and British Airways has run the program since 1992. Anyone in the tourism industry can enter.

Regional winners will compete for the global Tourism for Tomorrow award to be announced in February.

Diana Lane, who works in public relations for the Skico, said British Airways recognized some years ago that environmentally sound practices are essential to the future of the business. The company established and published its environmental policy in 1990 and began to initiate a variety of programs to implement the policy. The Tourism for Tomorrow awards came out of that effort.

In much the same way, the Skico began to develop its environmental policy a few years ago, creating its Environmental Affairs department. The Skico received the Tourism for Tomorrow award in recognition of the projects that followed.

Lane said Skico President Pat O’Donnell really took the lead in creating the company’s policy. But O’Donnell credits the company’s owners for making it all work financially.

“When we did make the commitment to be a good steward of our environment,” O’Donnell said, “the gratifying part was the complete endorsement of the ownership of the Aspen Skiing Company.” O’Donnell also praised Chris Lane, the Skico’s director of environmental affairs, for creating numerous programs that received international recognition.

The projects include building deconstruction and recycling projects, the wind-powered Cirque lift, the Skico’s environmental education projects, waste reduction and recycling projects, and alternative transportation innovations.

Also cited was the work of the company’s Environmental Foundation, a nonprofit employee organization that provides financial and volunteer assistance to grass-roots projects. Bolstering employee contributions with dollar-for-dollar matches by the Skico and the Aspen Foundation, the Environmental Foundation raised $120,000 in just over a year.

Last spring, the Skico received the Golden Eagle Award for Overall Environmental Excellence, awarded by the Times-Mirror organization. That award was granted in recognition of such environmental projects as the Cirque lift, transportation adjustments for air quality improvement, and wildlife enhancements such as fence removal, habitat creation and stream bank revegetation.

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