Skico’s environmental leader steps down
The man responsible for building the Aspen Skiing Co.’s reputation as an environmental leader in the ski industry announced Thursday that he is leaving the company.
Chris Lane, 33, Skico director of environmental affairs, said he is joining Amfac Parks and Resorts, a Denver-based firm that is a concessionaire in national parks and manager of major resorts throughout the United States.
Lane said it was extremely difficult for him to leave the Skico and he does so on the best of terms. He has been with the company for 3 1/2 years. His resignation is effective in two weeks.
“I wasn’t unhappy at the Aspen Skiing Company,” said Lane. “It’s all because I had an opportunity I couldn’t say no to. It’s a career growth change.”
Lane will design and implement environmental programs for Amfac Parks, which is the country’s largest concessionaire at national parks. His work will benefit some of the treasures in the National Park System, such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.
Lane will move to Denver and will travel extensively for his job, he said. He will regularly visit the Roaring Fork Valley because his wife, Diana, will remain here. She recently accepted a new position with the Skico as director of its local television station. The Lanes will keep their home in Basalt.
Chris Lane’s relocation will also force him to resign as a member of the Basalt Board of Trustees, he said. He was elected to a four-year term in April 1998. He has consistently promoted environmental issues, growth control and affordable housing as a member of the board.
Lane often said local governments needed to do more to try to keep young people in the valley – whether by helping create job opportunities or trying to make housing affordable.
“I’m a victim of what I preach – I’m a 30-something and I’m leaving the valley,” he said.
Trustee Jonathan Fox-Rubin said Lane brought a voice for “Generation X and Generation Y” – the young outdoor enthusiasts rather than the good old boys.
“He brings that perspective and fights for it,” Fox-Rubin said.
The other board members have 60 days to appoint a replacement.
Lane said that Auden Schendler, the current environmental affairs manager, will be promoted to director. The name of the program was formally changed this summer from environmental affairs to “corporate sustainability.”
Whatever its name, Lane brought it credibility, according to Beverly Compton, executive director of Aspen Wilderness Workshop.
“The most important thing to say about Chris Lane is that he wanted to make a difference and not fall victim to the corporate mind-set,” Compton said. “He brought a tremendous credibility to the Ski Company environmental efforts. It really wasn’t a greenwash.”
She hopes he can bring that same credibility to a major concessionaire in national parks. Those concessionaires are gaining in stature as Congress attempts to privatize public lands, said Compton.
During Lane’s tenure, the Skico was recognized by the ski industry as a leader in environmental programs. Lane helped create a Skico environmental foundation, developed the company’s “green development” guidelines for new buildings and helped recycle old uniforms by distributing them to the needy in Kosovo and other countries.
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