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Whistler Blackcomb has been awarded the 2010 Golden Eagle Award for Overall Environmental Excellence by a ski resort, marking the third time the Whistler, B.C., resort has received the ski industry’s highest environmental honor.

Whistler impressed Golden Eagle Awards judges with its comprehensive approach to environmental stewardship. The ski resort recently opened a hydroelectric facility on its property that will generate enough energy-33 gigawatt hours of hydro-electricity-to match its total annual energy consumption. The hydro facility, seven years in the development, is a partnership of Innergex Renewable Energy Inc., Ledcor Power Group and Whistler Blackcomb.

Whistler Blackcomb also made great strides in 2009 toward becoming a zero waste operation, reducing the amount of garbage it generates by 276 metric tonnes, or 46.5 percent, and increasing its levels of composting and recycled material usage.

In addition to the award for Overall Environmental Excellence, CLIF BAR presented Silver Eagle awards to three ski resorts in Colorado, two in California and one in Vermont. The full slate of 2010 Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Excellence was announced here yesterday during the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) National Convention and Tradeshow.

“Climate change presents a major and imminent challenge to everyone who enjoys the outdoors, especially when snow and winter activities are involved,” said Ricardo Balazs, sports marketing experience manager for Clif Bar & Company. “We’re proud to support the ski industry’s efforts to address global warming and hope the Golden Eagle Awards will inspire others to take action as well.”

Established in 1993, the Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Excellence recognize the environmental achievements of ski areas. The awards honor members of the NSAA, which represents the majority of ski area owners and operators in North America. Clif Bar & Company, which employs wind energy, biodiesel, waste reduction and other initiatives to reduce its own footprint on the planet, is the administrator of the awards program.

This year’s award winners were recognized for excellence in the following areas:

Golden Eagle, Overall Environmental Excellence: Whistler Blackcomb (British Columbia)
Energy conservation, waste management and renewable energy are central to Whistler Blackcomb’s environmental stewardship program. After seven years of hard work, the Fitzsimmons Creek Renewable Energy Project was completed and is up and running. The hydroelectric facility, located entirely within the resort’s operating area, will generate enough hydroelectricity (33 gigawatts) to match the ski area’s entire annual energy consumption. Furthermore, the project requires no power lines, and much of the development exists on previously disturbed areas. Whistler Blackcomb also made significant progress last year as it strives for zero waste, reducing its total waste in 2009 over 2008 by 59 percent through increased composting, garbage reduction and greater use of recycled materials.
Finalists: Stevens Pass (Washington), Stowe (Vermont)

Silver Eagle, Excellence in Water Conservation / Water Quality: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (California)
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area successfully completed a new reclaimed water system in partnership with the Mammoth Community Water District. It is the first large-scale reclaimed water program in the Eastern Sierra region of California. The recycled water supply will provide Mammoth’s Sierra Star golf course with 100 percent of its annual maximum water needs-320 acre/feet of water . That’s equivalent to the water needed to serve approximately 1,000 American households annually.
Finalists: Homewood (California), Northstar-at-Tahoe (California)

Silver Eagle, Excellence in Energy Conservation/Clean Energy: Bolton Valley (Vermont)
Vermont’s Bolton Valley became only the nation’s 2nd ski area, and Vermont’s first, to install its own wind turbine. The 121-foot-tall Northwind 100 Wind Turbine is now producing 300,000 kilowatt hours of power annually-about 1/8th of Bolton Valley’s total energy needs and an amount equivalent to the electricity consumed by 40 to 45 Vermont households.
Finalists: Killington (Vermont), Whistler Blackcomb (BC, Canada)

Silver Eagle, Excellence in Fish and Wildlife Habitat Protection: Durango Mountain Resort (Colorado)
Durango Mountain Resort’s comprehensive efforts in planning and implementing an expansion project not only increased the resort’s total skiable acreage by 10 percent to 1,325 acres, but also improved the forest health and wildlife habitat. Durango used only chain saws and hand tools to remove just standing dead timber, hazard trees and non-merchantable timber 6 inches or less in length. The resort used the most environmentally friendly clearing technique, known as “lop and scatter,” which left the cut trees on the forest floor and eliminated the need for heavy machinery.
Finalists: Mammoth (California), Vail Resorts (Colorado)

Silver Eagle, Excellence in Environmental Education: Sierra-at-Tahoe® Resort (California)
Sierra-at-Tahoe created a three-part educational campaign aimed at raising awareness among youth about the amount of trash people generate and educating youth about how to reduce waste. The message: “You can make a difference, every day, every time, by choosing to responsibly dispose of the waste you create.” Locally, Sierra reached out to almost 3,000 students through bottle top collection and on-mountain trash clean-up efforts. The resort also partnered with TransWorld Snowboarding to create a short video titled “Environmental Awakening” that aired nationally to millions of viewers on MTV2.
Finalists: Telluride (Colorado), Whistler Blackcomb (BC, Canada)

Silver Eagle, Excellence in Stakeholder Relations: Vail Resorts (Colorado)The Hayman Restoration Project is a first-of-its kind collaboration between private business, government and non-profits on this scale. Vail resorts committed $750,000 and 1,500 volunteer hours over the next three years to restore Colorado’s essential watersheds that were affected by the worst fire in the state’s history -the 2002 Hayman Fire. The project will focus on more than 115,000 thousand acres, including four watersheds that feed the Upper Platte River, the main water supply for Denver. The restoration project in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will protect water quality for millions of Colorado residents.
Finalists: Whistler Blackcomb (BC, Canada), Winter Park (Colorado)

Silver Eagle, Excellence in Waste Reduction and Recycling: Steamboat (Colorado)
Steamboat implemented a zero waste program for its on-mountain facilities in 2009. The program focuses on a pilot composting program for all organic material and paper products; recycling across all Food & Beverage outlets; and reusable products such as silverware and non-disposable dishes and plates. The first year of this program resulted in a 62 percent landfill diversion rate and 73 percent diversion rate from recycling. The resort’s goal is to increase its numbers by 5 percent each year until zero waste is achieved.
Finalists: Crested Butte (Colorado), Grand Targhee (Wyoming)