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SAM International, France (SnowHunter)--In the continuing trend to identify and quantify the efforts mde by ski resorts to minimise their environmental impact, Courchevel in France has detailed what the Three Valleys, the world's largest ski area, is doing in this regard.

The Three Valleys, which operates 1,920 snow cannons, 183 ski lifts and 67 trail groomers uses entirely hydro-electric power for its electricity requirements. This full enewable energy is provided by the Gaz Electruicite Company of Grenoble using power generated by small hydro-power centres in the French Alps. The area also uses biodegradable diesel in all its company vehicles.

For snowmaking the Three Valleys chose the Ariondaz Dam - a hilltop location that had minimal impact on the existing topography and is located in an area where no protected species live. The lake has a capacity of 123000 square metres of which about a quarter is available year round if ever required for fire fighting purposes.

The installation of the new Chapalets Chair is another example of good environmental practice. The lift pylons were anchored directly on to existing rocks to avoid the need for creating new concrete tower bases. The cables are marked to warn birds that might fly in to them. The company is also creating new meadow pasture to help preserve the endangered indigenous black grouse species.

Other initiatives in the area include the collection of rubbish from the pistes organised by the Anne Cattelin Association - an ex freeerider from Courchevel. Organic toilets have also been intalled at the base of the ski lifts. All old lift installations are dismantled and recycled once their working life is complete. A three fold waste processing and recycling system has also been introduced and skiers and boarders visiting the Three Valleys are encouraged to participate in maximising this scheme.  \