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Local ski areas think snow and think green, too


N.H. ski industry committed to being environmental stewards



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Snowmaking guns at Cranmore Mountain powered by biodiesel fuel. Cranmore Resort Photo. (click for larger version)
January 21, 2010
"There isn't an infinite supply of everything on this planet, including water and air — there will be plenty of generations that come after us. It is a collective obligation not using your fair share and to leave some [resources] for the next generation," says Doug Tulin, marketing director for Attitash Ski Resort in Bartlett.

Attitash is one of the many Mount Washington Valley ski areas that is committed to reducing its environmental impact and as a member of Ski NH is part of the Green Slopes program. Green Slopes is an initiative of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services' New Hampshire Pollution Prevention Program (NHPPP). NHPPP works with Ski NH and its members to assess the ski areas' chemical and waste use, air pollution, solid and hazardous waste generation and provides technical assistance to help reduce environmental impact.

Green Slopes encourages ski areas to recycle, to use alternative fuels, to use energy efficient snowmaking practices, to use environmentally friendly food service products, to install energy efficient lighting, to support sustainable construction, and to support anti-idling initiatives. The checklist includes 17 initiatives and though each ski area may not participate in each initiative, the following is a sampling of what's happening in our Valley.

Just recently, Attitash published its "Going Green Report," which states that since December 1, 2009, the resort was able to recycle 22.8 tons of materials with approximately 11.4 tons of that being paper and cardboard materials.

Tulin explains, "Our single most significant step is single-stream recycling," says Tulin. Single stream recycling is one-stop recycling. Tulin explains the mountain puts out all-in-one bins that guests can throw paper, cardboard, aluminum and glass into. The bins are dispersed throughout the lodge areas. "This makes it easy for our guests; the guests do not have to search for different types of bins," he says. "It makes it easy for our guests to participate. Waste Management collects the bins and they then take care of the sorting out and next recycle step. Aesthetically, the one-stop bin idea helps the mountain. We don't want the lodges to look like recycling plants; we want to make it easy to make the planet better," adds Tulin.

To grab attention, it is important to translate to staff and guests what recycling 22.8 tons means. Tulin explains the saving of 187 trees, 45,200 kilowatt hours, 39 cubic yards of landfill airspace, 5,093 gallons of oil, 264 gallons of gasoline and 77,000 gallons of water are total numbers. "It was interesting what I saw in statistics, these are aggregate numbers. Waste Management translates the numbers, the impact speaks for themselves," says Tulin.

"This isn't just about what Attitash contributes to improve the environment, but is about bringing more people along with you," says Tulin. It is important to put time into educating staff and not to be intrusive when it comes to sharing the message with guests. "Guests come here to relax, to get some exercise, to be with family. We don't want to push guests or be intrusive [with recycling messages]," says Tulin. He says they want to respect their guests and sometimes it is easier to pick up trash yourself and pop it in a recycle bin to set a good example. "We take the steps [recycling] ourselves while not being intrusive to our guests," says Tulin.

Over in East Madison, at Purity Spring Resort, the use of Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC) paper is the cutting edge.

Purity Spring Resort, which also includes King Pine Ski Area, Danforth Bay Camping, The Bluffs Adult RV Resort and Camp Tohkomeupog, has made the switch to FSC paper.

"A couple of years ago we looked at all the brochures we were printing for all the businesses. We were printing winter and summer brochures, but now we combine the brochures, use FSC paper and have cut back on our use of paper," says Dan Houde, director of marketing.

The FSC is a world-wide organization dedicated to the management of sustainable forestry. Its mission is to eliminate habitat destruction, water pollution and violence towards people and wildlife associated with logging. FSC will certify paper and paper products as long as the wood used in the products originates from FSC certified sources. Houde says you can actually track from which forest the paper originated.

The Hoyt family, owners of Purity Spring Resort, who purchased the land over 100 years ago, has always been environmentally conscious, explains Houde. "If you look back in history and see what they were doing in the 1920s and 1950s, it blows me away what they have done," he says.

In the 2010s the family tradition lives on. The resort also uses single–stream recycling and Houde agrees with Tulin and says the all-in-one bins make it so much easier for the guest to recycle. King Pine Ski Area, along with the resort's other businesses, heats 11 buildings with the alternative fuel, biodiesel.

"We use 100,000 gallons of fuel, and buy in bulk. We have been doing this for five years; the system is in place, it is working out well and we have seen a quick return on our investment," says Houde.

Speaking of biodiesel, back in North Conway, Cranmore Mountain Resort has been using biodiesel in its grooming machines and diesel trucks since 2003. Cranmore was actually the first eastern ski area to do so.

According to their winter press release, the resort uses more than 20,000 gallons of 20 percent biodiesel, which translates to a 4000-gallon reduction of conventional fossil fuel. To celebrate its conversion to biodiesel, Cranmore will again be hosting two "Biodiesel Days" this year, one on Saturday, Jan. 23 and the other on March 10. Guests, who drive their hybrid cars to the mountain, will be given a free lift ticket and VIP parking.

Cross- country ski areas support environmentally friendly practices and are passionate about this too. Up in Jackson, Jackson Ski Touring Foundation uses biodiesel in its diesel trucks but chooses another alternative in its grooming equipement. "Biodiesel is good in lots of ways," says Thom Perkins, director. "But, if there is a spill, it doesn't prevent pollution." Perkins says the foundation is very concerned about what types of fuels they use, and the design of the trails. Don't forget the ski trails go right by and are on some people's properties. "We go right by people's wells," he says. "When we build our trails, we are very sensitive to how they look, we spend lot of money," he adds. Jackson spends lots of money on their grooming equipment too. You see there is no snow making on the cross-country trails and Perkins says that his expert groomers know how to groom and make the natural snow the best.

Green Plus is what fuels Jackson XC 's grooming equipment. Perkins explains that they have risk management procedures set up, if there were ever to be a spill, but he finds that using a biodegradable non-toxic fuel is a better solution. "We use what's called Green Plus and it is made out of Rainbow Trout," says Perkins. Green Plus is a catalyst that helps existing fuels burn more efficiently according to the company's website: biofriendly.com.

As far as the environmental risk, Perkins says, "We sleep very well at night."

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