As lovers of the mountains and the greater outdoors, as a group, we appreciate the wonder and beauty of nature more than most and understand that we must do everything within our power to protect it and ensure it lives on for future generations.
That’s why, 25 years ago, SKI magazine joined forces with the National Ski Area Association to create the Golden Eagle Awards, designed to recognize resorts, programs, and people in the industry making strides toward sustainability. This year’s winners represent a quarter-century of eco-minded efforts to reduce skiing’s carbon footprint and increase awareness of the need for environmental change in every corner of our lives.
This year also saw the debut of two new awards. First, the Innovation in Sustainability award went to Bear Valley, the first of two Californian resorts awarded, for an “eco-glamping” tent-camping experience that allows guests to stay in canvas tents powered entirely off the grid, and get around on solar-powered bikes. Open from the end of June through the middle of October, the “glampground” is comprised of 15 tents with queen beds, rugs, heaters, and basic furniture.
The other new accolade is the Climate Change Impact award, given to Michigan’s Crystal Mountain for its dedication to overhauling the resort’s infrastructure. Husband-and-wife team Jim and Chris MacInnes, CEO, and president, respectively, have worked tirelessly to set an example, installing EV charging stations, moving 56 percent of the resort’s power sources to clean energy, and building a LEED-certified spa. Their current project, a renovation of the Inn at the Mountain, features an innovative closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling system. Leading by example, the MacInneses have elevated Crystal’s status as an industry innovator.
The Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence went to another Californian resort, Lake Tahoe’s Boreal, which was recognized for a recent solar project going in at its Woodward facility. The system is the largest rooftop solar array in the state’s ski tourism industry and represents the equivalent of banishing 52 cars from the road. If that’s not enough, Boreal has removed 790 tons of carbon since 2008 and offsets 100 percent of its energy use with renewable energy credits.
Finally, Arapahoe Basin’s Sha Miklas was named this year’s Hero of Sustainability for nurturing a culture of economic responsibility from the top down at the Colorado resort. Proof: Over 75 percent of visitors to A-Basin say they’re aware of the resort’s eco efforts, which is no small feat.
For more on the Golden Eagle Awards, visit the NSAA’s website.