The Sustainable Slopes Environmental Charter drives the NSAA’s database of ski areas, an industry-sponsored effort that highlights what your favorite ski area is doing to help conserve our resources. While it’s great to see the ski industry move in the right direction, the Ski Area Environmental Scorecard by the Ski Area Citizens Coalition may provide a less bias view. Independent the ski industry, the coalition’s goal is to “differentiate between those ski areas that engage in environmentally sound practices on the ground versus those that merely claim to do so.” Their seachable database gives skiers and boarders a way to assess the environmental stewardship of their favorite resorts.
Sadly, neither organization has any real enforcement power over the ski areas. Without third-party oversight or institutional mechanisms to enforce speciﬁc environmental standards, a 2004 study found that participation in the Sustainable Slopes Program is actually correlated with lower environmental performance ratings. For now, enforcement power lies in the hands of the informed skiing consumer.