Skico gets silver, not gold, in green contest | AspenTimes.com

Skico gets silver, not gold, in green contest

Brent Gardner-SmithAspen Times Staff Writer

The Golden Eagle didn’t land this year for the Aspen Skiing Co.The Telluride Ski and Golf Co. won the ski industry’s top environmental honor from Mountain Sports Media this year after the Skico had won the award three years in a row.The Skico, however, was a finalist for this year’s Golden Eagle award, along with Vail Resorts and Whistler/Blackcomb in Canada.And the Skico won two Silver Eagles in the categories of water conservation and energy conservation.It was also a finalist for a Silver Eagle in two other categories, fish and wildlife habitat protection and “stakeholder relations.”The Golden Eagle and seven Silver Eagle awards were announced Saturday by Time4 Media’s Mountain Sports Media, the parent of Ski and Skiing magazines, during the National Ski Areas Association annual convention in New Orleans.The ski areas competing for the award prepare detailed reports about their environmental efforts. Judges this year included the editors of Ski and Skiing, the president of the National Ski Areas Association, the director of environmental programs for the Salt Lake City Olympics and the director of conservation for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Skico won a Silver Eagle the first year the awards were presented in 1993 and has been winning awards steadily since the award applications have been prepared by Auden Schendler, Skico environmental affairs director.But this year, Telluride won the big prize based on its free gondola transportation system that links two towns, the ski area and employee housing and for its approach to the Prospect Bowl expansion.”Prospect Bowl is an amazing story – but not the whole story – on Telluride’s ‘paradigm shift’ toward sustainability and environmental stewardship,” said the judges. “Its well-rounded programs clearly demonstrate that the resort has made protection of the environment a priority and an integral part of resort operations.”Telluride has been working on its environmental programs since it was cited in the early 1990s for damaging a wetland during construction of a lift.The Skico won one of its two Silver Eagle awards for water conservation. The company said it would save 3 million gallons from building its Snowmass halfpipe mostly out of dirt instead of snow, for redesigning the Snowmass golf course to use less water and for its plans to dig new snowmaking water storage ponds this summer at the Snowmass Ski Area.And the company’s Silver Eagle award for energy conservation was based on an energy management system at the Little Nell, its commitment to reduce emissions by 10 percent by 2010 and for saving energy by not blowing as much snow on the dirt halfpipe.The company also got credit for a letter that CEO Pat O’Donnell wrote to President George W. Bush urging him to recognize the effects of climate change and to support the Kyoto Protocol.Whiteface Mountain in New York won a Silver Eagle for habit protection after installing a system that monitors stream flow in a stream used for snowmaking.The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation won a Silver Eagle for environmental education, and the Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe, Calif., won a Silver Eagle for excellence in visual impact for its new gondola, which is “low profile in design and the lift line was minimally cleared. Lift towers, cabins, the midstation and an observation deck were all painted to mute their visibility. No access roads were cut for the construction; materials and equipment were either helicoptered or carried in, and construction workers walked to and from the site,” according to information from the contest organizers.Whistler/Blackcomb of British Columbia won a Silver Eagle for stakeholder relations for its work “to make Whistler the first sustainable resort community in the world.”And finally, Keystone won a Silver Eagle for waste reduction and recycling.