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Boulder’s own “friendly ski resort,” Eldora Mountain, may not be quite so friendly in terms of ecological impact according to a recent survey from the Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition. The South Lake Tahoe based environmental group scored Eldora an overall ‘D’ rating in its relation to environmental concerns.
Eldora Mountain. (Ryan Martin/CU Independent)
While seemingly a cause for concern to the ski resort, members of its board have “dismissed” the rating due to what they consider an overemphasis on land expansion plans.
“There are bigger issues at hand here,” said Eldora spokesman Rob Linde, speaking to the narrow guidelines that the survey highlights.
He goes on to advocate Eldora’s role as environmental stewards, explaining that they are committed to “recycling, transportation, and efficient snow-making processes,” among other things.
Respectively, these considerations are confirmed by the resort’s use of recycling bins in all facilities, an RTD bus that runs regularly to the resort from Boulder and a cheaper energy bill resulting from new snow-making technologies that cut the amount of water required.
Although the rating itself is certainly of significance, Eldora’s “dismissal” of the poor grade is a common example of the disconnected relationship that many environmental groups share with the businesses that they target. While, perhaps, the coalition’s rating system is accurate and effective, a more important aspect is that it has not proved effective to their selected party, the ski resort.
Elaborating on this point, Linde said, “The rating is hard to ignore… we do not discount what they say, but I do not consider [the rating] to carry much weight.”
When asked if the resort will act appropriately to make changes resulting from the coalition’s survey, Linde said, “I can not say it has zero effect.”
In other words, the report did not stir up much activity. He did, however, suggest that the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, a government ran and funded environmental agency, has more influence on the resorts decisions.
These statements can serve as a template for the environmental group-business relationship referred to earlier. When restrictions and laws are put into place, people listen, but when moral judgments are considered, any reasonable businessman will throw those to the side if they come equipped with economic costs. This has nothing to do with who the person is or the people that are involved with the business, but has more to do with the “grow or die” principle that a capitalistic economy creates.
To the resort, the rating handed out by the coalition is in a way, meaningless, and as Linde points out, just “business as usual.” In this remark, he suggests that the coalition is simply trying to achieve their own marks and validate their cause just as the resort is trying to sustain its business and growth.
This principle lays the foundation for many current environmental problems.
“They don’t want to see us here, and we understand that,” Linde said, but “usually the tactic is opposition, not collaboration.”
It is one thing to gain public support for an agenda, but is throwing out a report card that addresses businesses like elementary students really helping to solve the problem? I think not. There has to be collaboration for the outcome to be a success.
Nathan Zick-Smith, sophomore and environmental studies major, feels this can be combated. “Each group needs to be allowed to incorporate its interests and ideologies into a uniform goal of sustainability,” Zick-Smith said. “Otherwise, groups will feel excluded from the dialogue and be unwilling to participate.”
The damage that Eldora Mountain and many other ski resorts produce to their immediate environment does not reflect the environmentally conscious community they help to mold and maintain. The business of ski resorts is related to environmental concerns.
“There is no ignoring that,” Linde said, but “we need to remain sustainable as a business in order to promote the resort as an exceptional recreational opportunity for the Boulder community [and others.]”
He also feels we need to focus on “getting people outside so they may appreciate what the environment has to offer.”
Thus, it may be necessary that we assign Eldora Mountain with a different rating. The environmental issues that a business may present cannot be effectively administered with a simple letter grade. I advise the Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition to rethink their strategies. The costs that we make to our environment currently exist in ambiguity, but by making a collaborative effort towards a similar goal of sustainability, this ambiguity won’t be a concern.
Linde also spoke of a small group of CU Boulder students working with the resort to implement new and effective ways to encourage and enhance sustainability. He says he is optimistic to see what ideas the group may come up with.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ryan Martin at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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