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Sustainability

Steamboat Ski Resort

The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation has developed a strong position over the past four decades to protect the environment and provide responsible stewardship of the public and private lands on which the resort operation resides. The resort has also developed a close partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to accomplish joint ecosystem management goals and objectives within the Routt/Medicine Bow National Forests, on which a large portion of the ski resort exists.

With Steamboat's award-winning area design, solid-waste recycling, comprehensive on-mountain natural & ecosystem resource management, protection programs and granting program; Steamboat is setting a high standard for resort environmental programs. In addition, the resort works to enhance and promote collaboration and build partnerships throughout the entire Yampa Valley community.

"It is only together through the wise use of natural resources as well as the preservation and enhancement of our National Forest that Steamboat will go beyond providing just recreation; and, ensure a sound environmental experience for all who come in contact with the mountain, company and community," said Chris Diamond, president and chief operating officer for the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.

National Environmental Awards & Recognition

  • 2010 Silver Eagle Award for Waste Reduction and Recycling — Winner
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership
  • The Green-e Renewable Energy Certification Program
  • 2003 Silver Eagle Award for Stakeholder Relations — Finalist
  • 2002 Silver Eagle Award for Environmental Education — Winner
  • 2000 Silver Eagle Award for Area Visual Impacts — Finalist
  • 1998 Silver Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence in Area Design — Winner
  • 1994 Golden Eagle Award for Overall Environmental Excellence in Ski Areas — Finalist
  • 1993 Silver Eagle Award for Recycling Program — Winner

Steamboat and the Environment

The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation includes within its mission statement a commitment to protecting the environment. Guided by this mission, Steamboat's environmental programs run the gamut from supporting renewable energy generation to community granting.

Learn more about Steamboat's Environmental Programs:

Energy Efficiency & Renewability

Environmental Chairlifts: The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation installed the Christie Peak Express, a high-speed six-person chairlift, replacing several base area lifts during the summer of 2007. In 2006, the resort installed Sunshine Express, a high-speed quad in Sunshine Bowl and in 2004, a Leitner-Poma of America fixed-grip triple chairlift, Burgess Creek triple. As a part of its long-standing commitment to the environment, the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation uses alternative energy to power all three chairlifts. Sunshine Express utilizes a combination of solar and wind renewable energy and is believed to be the only chairlift in the nation to be powered using solar energy. Christie Peak Express and Burgess Creek are powered entirely by renewable wind energy.

Green Energy for More Than 3% of Total Electric Requirements: The Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation purchases renewable energy certificates to offset more than 3 percent of its total electricity requirements from green energy sources. Steamboat joins a select few ski resorts in the United States to reach this level of renewable energy usage. The resort gets its green energy from renewable energy certificates from 3 Phases Energy Services to ensure the delivery of clean, natural wind power to the "grid", thereby displacing an equivalent amount of energy that otherwise would have been created by non-renewable sources.

Despite the increased cost of supporting renewable energy, the resort is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of its operations, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to support the increased use of clean, renewable energy. Steamboat's commitment has the equivalent environmental impact of preventing the release of 899,760 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Steamboat has been recognized by the US Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership for its leadership in bringing new renewable energy to market. Green power is electricity that is generated from resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and low-impact hydro facilities.

In addition, Steamboat's program has been recognized by The Green-e Renewable Energy Certification Program, the leading voluntary certification and verification program that sets standards for renewable electricity-based products in three markets for renewable energy: restructured, regulated, and tradable renewable certificates. Nationally, Green-e currently certifies 60 products that are sold by 100 marketers, utilities and brokers.

Award Winning Recycling Program: Steamboat's commitment to environmental management continues with its Silver Eagle Award-winning recycling system. During 2007, a total of 145.25 tons of materials was recycled, including 46.2 tons of glass, 62.8 tons of cardboard, 17.8 tons of aluminum, plastic and tin, 12.75 tons of newspaper, and 6 tons of office paper.

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Waste Management

Water Conservation – The resort has saved significant quantities of water through the use of low flush toilets and auto shut-off faucets. A low flush toilet uses approximately 64% less water than a regular 4.5-gallon fixture. Decreased use has also resulted in reduced wastewater volume discharge. Currently, nearly 4 miles/6.2km of primary snowmaking pipe is being installed that is rated to last an average of 50 years, twice as long as existing pipe and able to handle pressure upwards of 700 pounds per square inch. These pipes will essentially eliminate leaks and Steamboat becomes one of the first resorts in the country to use this new technology installing nearly 9 miles/14.4kms of this pipe over the past two seasons.

Energy Reduction: Significant strides have been made to reduce energy usage and CO2 emissions across the resort. The snowmaking system has converted to high efficiency guns in many areas (tower guns on Heavenly Daze and Buddy’s Run), compressors and sophisticated computer controls. The resort has transitioned to all 4-stroke snowmobile models, uses newer, state-of-the-art snowcats and has replaced kitchen equipment in on-mountain restaurants that are all more energy efficient. Until recently, biofuels have not performed reliably in conditions of extreme cold. Annually, the resort investigates incorporating these fuels and will do so when their performance meets operating specifications.

Resort Public Transit: SSRC operates a fleet of people movers to provide shuttle service from a variety of near site parking facilities to the ski resort as well as employee housing The Ponds at Steamboat. The shuttle system, along with the city bus system, transports the majority of guests from remote parking, downtown and area condominiums. These efforts reduce the vehicle miles traveled by guests and employees by approximately 1.2 million miles last year as well as reduced emissions and traffic congestion. Both the resort and city's transportation system is free.

Carpool/Mass Transit Program: Guests arriving at the resort either by carpool (three or more individuals per car) or by mass transit were entered a drawing as the resort hosted it first incentive mass transit program as part of Sustainable Slopes day. Carpooling or using mass transit reduces CO2 emissions and greenhouse gases.

Resort Collateral: SSRC produces numerous pieces of marketing, sales, and resort collateral as well as food & beverage products using recycled paper and materials. Many of these publications devote segments to the encouragement of environmental consciousness; highlight environmental initiatives at the ski area, and the cooperative efforts with outside agencies. Look for this logo to know that you are using products made from recycled materials.

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Community Partnerships & Educational Outreach

Educational Programs: The resort's environmental education programs reach out to school and youth groups, the local community, employees and visitors to better help them understand and appreciate the alpine environment. With more than 20 specific efforts, from tree planting to creek rehabilitation and from monetary contributions to nature trails on the mountain, Steamboat along with its environmental partners make education a daily commitment. These programs received national recognition with the 2002 Silver Eagle for their scope and impact.

2002 Silver Eagle Award: Steamboat was honored with the Silver Eagle Award for Excellence in Environmental Education. The resort's environmental education programs reach out to school and youth groups, the local community, employees and visitors to better help them understand and appreciate the alpine environment. With more than 20 specific efforts, from tree planting to creek rehabilitation and from monetary contributions to nature trails on the mountain, Steamboat along with its environmental partners make education a daily commitment. Steamboat edged out finalists, Vail and Whistler/Blackcomb for the 2002 Silver Eagle Award for Excellence in Environmental Education. The Golden and Silver Eagle Awards were established in 1993 by Mountain Sports Media to recognize and encourage the environmental achievements of resorts.

Interpretive Signs at Thunderhead: A series of informative signs overlooking the Yampa Valley and the ski area were installed on the third floor of Thunderhead. These signs were designed in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and feature wildlife information, local history and points of interest.

Guided Nature Tours: Join one of the naturalists from Yampatika's Education Partnership for a free tour and receive interpretive information on the forest, mountain habitat and indigenous flora and fauna. Meet at the top of Why Not at 1:30pm on Tuesday & Thursday. Tours run from mid-December through March.

Mesa Schoolhouse: During the 1999 summer, Steamboat employees donated their time to paint the 83-year-old Mesa Schoolhouse at the foot of Rabbit Ears Pass on US. 40. Recently white with green trim, this "little red schoolhouse" was restored to its landmark red color. The one-room building was one of the first schools in Routt County and operated until 1959 when the district consolidated.

Purchase of Development Rights: This program allows ranchers and other landowners to sell all future development rights on their land to a conservation trust. In Routt County, PDR established a fund that helps buy ranch development rights, placing the property in protected status. Several ranchers have already taken advantage of this program, ensuring that the wide-open spaces of the Yampa Valley are preserved forever. Tom Baer, the resort's videographer, produced a 20-minute video that was instrumental in convincing Routt County voters to pass the PDR proposal. This particular program is generating national attention and has become a model for other communities.

Carpenter Ranch/Nature Conservancy Project: Resort staff traded their regular jobs for hammers and paintbrushes for a day to fix up the Nature Conservancy's Carpenter Ranch. The staff contributed 600 hours of labor in just one day. This project demonstrated the resort's strong community spirit and its commitment to the Yampa Valley's unique cultural heritage and natural values. The Carpenter Ranch is located 20 miles west of Steamboat Springs in Hayden, CO.

Tree Planting Project At Rough Rider Basin: Through a joint project with the U. S. Forest Service and the Boy Scouts of America, more than 800 spruce seedlings were planted at the ski area's kids-only winter adventure park, Rough Rider Basin. Resort staff teamed up with area Cub and Boy Scouts for a day of planting, forestry and environmental awareness.

Butcherknife Creek Rehabilitation: The resort donated personnel and heavy equipment to the Strawberry Park Elementary School rehabilitation program at Butcherknife Creek. Re-hab included regrading and revegetating stream banks, as well as improving habitat for fish and wildlife. The fourth and fifth graders learned about the importance and fragility of the environment.

Routt County Woolens: The vast amounts of snow that blanket the high country of Colorado make Steamboat Springs a world class ski resort and also produce some of the nation's cleanest wool. From the mountain meadows, river valleys and rolling sage country of northwest Colorado, Routt County Woolens, LLC brings to you the original, natural, "miracle fiber" used in making these premium quality wool products. Wool is naturally water and soil resistant, will keep you warm and cozy, and is an all-natural fiber made by Mother Nature herself. These American-made products are created with high quality standards in an effort to supply you with a true keepsake of the American West. In fact, Routt County Woolen blankets have been presented to Steamboat Grand owners and purchased by the ski area for special events, functions & gifts.

www.coloradowool.net

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Forest Stewardship

Area Design: Techniques such as trail edge feathering, scalloping, and glading are utilized by SSRC to reduce the visual impact of cross cutting ski trails on Mt. Werner. Prior to upgrading or expanding trails, a visuals management plan is developed which addresses the ultimate visual compatibility with surrounding areas. Today, computers are utilized to determine visual, water and soil impacts before a single piece of dirt is touched.

Trail Development: Most of the hiking and biking trails on the mountain were built by hand to minimize impacts. Ski trail design and improvements are based upon environmental factors such as wind throw, exposure, maintenance of healthy tree stands, wildlife concerns, and visual impacts. The integrity of natural water courses and wetlands are protected and buffered. In 1992, horses were used to haul heavy equipment during new lift construction, as opposed to building new roads for vehicle traffic. Since 1996, new chairlifts have been installed using helicopters lessening the demands for new roads and minimizing impacts to surrounding areas. In addition, the resort used a "light on the land" approach when developing Pioneer Ridge and Morningside Park expansion areas. Essentially this translates into minimizing short and long term impacts to the ecosystem, as well as through the use of best management practices, using design standards that provide for high quality aesthetics and land management.

Habitat Enhancement: Habitats that support bird and other wildlife populations are studied so that improvements can be made. SSRC specialists count Neotropical birds each spring. Currently, SSRC is working with other agencies, exploring possibilities for improving nesting habitat for migratory birds. A winter bird count was completed during 1994. SSRC employees, with assistance from the Forest Service, performed a Pine Martin survey using trip cameras in 1993/94. With an increased awareness of habitats that are preferred by certain species, SSRC has been able to work toward maintaining a balance between changes made to the mountain and the integrity of natural habitats.

Re-vegetation Program: Special re-vegetation practices, which utilize natural grasses and plants provide improved wildlife habitat for many foraging species. SSRC is an active member of the Colorado Native Plant Society and has an ongoing employee education program in place.

Slash Management: Where pertinent, management practices on the mountain include stacking low brush or slash, or dispersing brush to provide habitat for the many species that thrive on this type of habitat. This practice also serves to slow surface runoff, return soil nutrients, and provide shade for new forest growth.

Fuels Management: An aggressive program to minimize fire hazard is ongoing. This includes removing potential fire fuels, the use of spark arrestors on vehicles and machinery, and general education of mountain users. Several resort personnel have attained their red card certification from the US Forest Service as well as interagency cooperative programs and training have been implemented. In addition, smoking is prohibited across the entire ski area.

Spruce Beetle Prevention Goes Long Way in Saving Trees: In 2006, Steamboat had their most aggressive effort in nearly 10 years to reduce mountain pine beetle infestation and spruce beetle population. About 913 trees (mostly Lodge pole Pine) were cut and removed via timber sale, and a local logger was used to skid and transport the trees. Of the 913 cut trees, 826 were on US forestland and 87 on private ski area land.

Mountain Project Day: The annual spring on-mountain project day, now in its 17th year, has been organized with more than 100 resort employees working on projects, gathering litter and other materials from across the area. On average nearly 100 gallons of trash is removed or recycled from the resort this day.

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Environmental Granting

Ski Corp. Employee Environmental Fund: Steamboat is one of a handful of resorts nationally to establish a significant granting program based on environmental needs. Over the past four years, the fund, which resides within the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, has given nearly $140,000 to various environmental projects throughout the Yampa Valley including a record $55,028 in 2006.

Old Chair Sale: Through the sale of 175 chairs from the old Christie II, Headwall and Preview lifts, the resort raised $43,750 that went to the Ski Corp. Environmental Fund, housed with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. Selling out in less than two hours, each chair was offered to the public for a minimum donation of $250. These three chairlifts were replaced with a new Leitner-Poma high-speed six-person chairlift before the 2007/08 season.

Steamboat Springs Capital Funds: The resort makes an annual contribution of $75,000 for community capital projects including: parks, beautification and recreation. Projects have included: Lithia Spring Park, Ski Time Square improvements, Yampa River improvements, Depot Gallery renovation, Highway 40 median landscaping, Spring Creek trail construction, ice rink enhancements, Yampa River kayak course, botanical gardens, Howelsen Skate Park, Strings in the Mountains, BMX track, area communities such as Oak Creek, Yampa and Hayden and the Ute Indian memorial. Over the past two decades, $1.6 million has gone towards community projects.

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Sustainable Slopes & Keep Winter Cool Programs

Click Here To Learn What Can You Do. A partnership between the National Ski Association of America and the Natural Resources Defense Council resulted in Keep Winter Cool, a campaign to lead the fight against Global Climate Change.

Visit their website at www.keepwintercool.org.

Sustainable Slopes Program

The National Ski Areas Association developed an environmental charter, Sustainable Slopes, which Steamboat is an active participant. Steamboat celebrated Sustainable Slopes Day and the resort's environmental programs this past season, focusing on several activities and special events including HOV (high occupancy vehicles) rewards program; environmental kiosk exhibit; on-mountain Eco-Tours and environmental partners. www.nsaa.org

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Partners

US Forest Service: Recreation on this public land is provided by a unique partnership between the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation and the Routt/Medicine Bow National Forest. The resort is committed to the wise use of our natural resources, as well as the preservation and enhancement of the National Forest. Join us in our commitment to preserve this special environment by helping keep your National Forest lands beautiful.

Partnerships: SSRC fosters creative partnerships with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, the American Birding Association, and various community organizations such as the Yampatika, working toward proper stewardship of the forest and ecosystem management. The resort also participates in fundraising events and contributes to a variety of non-profit organizations including the Nature Conservancy.

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