Vail Resorts Launches "Green Guest" Program

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Publish Date

08/31/2006

SAM Magazine-Denver, Aug. 31, 2006-Vail Resorts is partnering with the National Forest Foundation (NFF), a non-profit partner of the U.S. Forest Service that helps the USFS improve the health of the national forest system, to raise funds for conservation projects in both the White River National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin areas. The two groups hope to raise as much as $600,000 over the coming season.

As with Vail's recent wind power initiative, the company is seeking to get its customers involved in its environmental effort. In the new program, Vail Resorts (VR) will ask its guests to contribute an additional $1 when they purchase season's pass and on-line lift tickets, and $1 per room night at VR's Colorado-based lodging properties, to Friends of The Forests, a NFF program.

NFF will match each dollar raised with an additional $0.50 of its own, and will use the funds to provide financial assistance to local conservation projects, particularly those focused on sustainable recreation, wildlife habitat and stream restoration. Programs which have received NFF assistance in the past include the Colorado 14ers, the Continental Divide Trail Alliance and the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project.

Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts.
 
"The only way to effect change is to get everyone together and work toward a common goal," said Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts. "We want to partner with our guests, and there are a wide variety of issues we are trying to tackle. Our company is committed to taking a leadership role. We feel that by communicating with our guests we can have a real impact in protecting the environment."

"The Vail program raises the bar for cooperative conservation," said NFF president Bill Possiel. If VR meets its fundraising goal, it would mark the largest donation of its kind for the NFF.

While VR isn't matching the funds donated by its guests, it is setting up the infrastructure to handle the donations. And, said Katz, VR intends "to continue the fundraising effort for the long term." To spread its message, "the company is committed to educating guests with on-line and print media," he added-and that educational effort will require an investment. "We believe this is the right thing to do," he said.

Vail's initiative is the most recent move by a major industry player to green up its resorts, and comes on the heels of the company's announcement that Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly Valley will purchase wind power exclusively for their electrical energy needs.

Given the likelihood that other areas will follow VR's lead with the NFF program, there's no doubt that this "is the right thing to do," and that the ripple effect from the company's decision will spread across the industry fairly rapidly. Look for similar initiatives to be announced soon.