Academics, Areas Differ on Sustainable Slopes

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Publish Date

01/25/2005

SAM Magazine--Boulder, Colo., Aug. 30, 2004--A report critical of the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA)'s Sustainable Slopes Program has itself drawn criticism from the resort industry.

The report, authored by two university professors, concludes that the program amounts to little more than greenwashing. Resorts have criticized the report for using inappropriate data to assess the merit of Sustainable Slopes and thus failing to consider all the steps resorts take to protect the environment.

The report is based on information from 2001 and 2002 collected by the Ski Area Citizens Coalition (SACC), the environmental group that hands out yearly "report cards." The researchers used this data base because it was the only "third party" information available, they said. However, Geraldine Link of NSAA points out that this information fails to include the central elements of Sustainable Slopes. The SACC report card is based largely on the group's own estimates of resort growth impacts, while the SS program focuses on quantifying action on sustainability issues such as energy use, water conservation, waste handling, and transportation impacts.

"The irony is that the authors criticize NSAA for not having an independent audit of the program, but their criticism relies on the unaudited data of the Coalition," said Link.

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