Telluride is often described as one of the most beautiful places in the world, situated within a box canyon and surrounded by majestic Rocky Mountain peaks. Our environment is also our livelihood, and we intend to apply strong moral and ecological ethics to the stewardship of our natural resources, while taking a leadership role in the heightened environmental education and awareness of our guests, community, and employees.
The Telluride Ski & Golf Resort’s environmental work has evolved through the years to cover a broad range of conservation initiatives and educational endeavors. The well-balanced program has won acclaim within the ski industry, including the National Ski Area Association’s Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence, the Regional Forester’s Caring for the Land Stewardship Award, and certification in Audubon International’s acclaimed Cooperative Sanctuary System program for golf courses. Telluride Ski Resort collaborates with the United States Forest Service, the surrounding Telluride and Mountain Village communities, as well as San Miguel County, to together find solutions that will sustain the region’s economic, cultural and environmental health.
Telski has set a standard in the region for best management practices applied to watershed protection since wetland restoration efforts began to take place on the golf course in 1997. Since then, the resort has made watershed protection a priority and will continue to implement monitoring programs that ensure resort operations do not adversely impact water quality.
Our resort prides itself on its application of watershed protection practices to resort operations, and is working on a complete assessment of the ski area to identify areas of hydrologic impact caused by ski trail and road construction. The hydrologic assessment will provide a complete understanding of the hydrologic regime of the lands within the Telluride Ski Area. Mapping of all surface waterways and their complete drainage network serves as a basemap for the assessment, with specific channel reaches being rated using a system that incorporates geomorphic and ecological characteristics to identify potential watershed restoration, mitigation, and enhancement sites, or sites that should be protected. This process is used to prioritize sites in an effort to reduce sediment discharge and other impacts to downstream environments within Telluride’s San Miguel Watershed.
Telluride Ski Resort's award-winning Prospect Bowl expansion in 2001 utilized several innovative trail construction techniques to minimize erosion of new trails and avoid impacts to riparian areas, preserve the natural feeling of the mountain, and protect the habitat of the locally reintroduced lynx. Borne as a result of the expansion, scientific studies of high alpine fens were begun to better understand these important ecosystems that exist in Prospect Basin and throughout the San Juan Mountains.
Fens are wetlands that are rich in organic peat matter and that support remarkable and rare plant and animal life. The Prospect Basin fens, like many in the San Juans, represent unique ecological niches. In Prospect Basin, the age of the fens stretch back in time approximately 10,000 years. Since many of the wetland plants associated with fens are clonal, these fens provide a valuable baseline source of information on climate, plants, insects, carbon sequestration, and other useful characteristics of mountain environments over time.
Telluride Ski Resort supports the continued education, scientific monitoring and analyses of the Prospect Basin fens and those existing in the San Juan Mountains so that they can be safeguarded throughout our national forests. The San Juans Fen Partnership supports a high level of fen protection in the current Grand Mesa Uncompahgre (GMUG) National Forest and San Juan National Forest management plan revisions that are now taking place in southwestern Colorado. Additionally, the Partnership intends to incorporate outreach training for these and other land managers into the fen studies to ensure their continued protection.
Made up of the Town of Mountain Village, the Town of Telluride, San Miguel County, Telluride Ski & Golf Resort, Sheep Mountain Alliance, Colorado State University, Mountain Studies Institute and the local community at-large, the Partnership is working closely with the United States Forest Service, which manages much of the high country in the San Juan Mountains, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has been providing grants to identify and study the fens.
The Prospect Basin fen studies at the Telluride Ski Resort are the only studies of their type being performed in the United States. The San Juans Fen Partnership oversees further scientific research, monitoring and analyses of the fens in the San Juans region, as well as continued popular education about fens and their importance to local forest and alpine ecology. Dr. David Cooper, PhD., of Colorado State University directs the scientific studies and monitoring programs of fens throughout the San Juan Mountains.
For more information about Dr. Cooper’s scientific fen research, visit www.mountainstudies.org/research.
Telluride Ski Resort and Mountain Village have been praised for solving access challenges with the gondola and chondola, and Dial-A-Ride shuttle programs. Biodeisel fuel is being tested in larger quantities for use on the mountain and is currently used in small quantities in snowcats, in golf course utility vehicles and for summertime mountain maintenance, while the Telski supports the planning and construction of a biodeisel plant to serve the surrounding four-corners region is being studied. The resort is investigating incentives for carpooling and visitor mass transit, and implementing fuel-reduction programs for snowmobiles, snow cats and all resort vehicles.
Perhaps the most challenging category of resource management, Telluride Ski Resort maintains an average amount of diversion of waste from local landfills (approx 15-20 percent). The resort continues to focus on improving the implementation and enforcement of the recycling program throughout resort, and has begun to implement a centralized, green purchasing program. Restaurants use recycled or sugar and corn-based paper plates and bowls, and natural corn plastic utensils and cups. Telluride Ski Resort recycled approximately 100 tons per year.
Telluride Ski Resort uses approximately 80 million gallons of water a year for ski resort operations, with about 75 million of those gallons used for snowmaking. We are in the process a phased redesign of our snowmaking system to improve efficiency and broken lines are identified, repaired or replaced seasonally. The golf course used about 30 million gallons per season.
While our improved snowmaking and irrigation equipment saves a significant amount of energy, Telluride Ski Resort continues to research and develop alternative fuel and energy sources and to implement company-wide conservation measures to further reduce the resort’s greenhouse gas emissions. Telluride Ski Resort consistently encourages energy conservation throughout the resort and replaces appliances and lights with newer, more efficient models.
Overall Environmental Excellence 2002 - Prospect Bowl Expansion
Coveted award given from National Ski Areas Association and resource partners for proven environmentally-friendly resort operations.
Fish and Wildlife Habitat Protection 2006 - San Juan Fens Partnership
Annual conservation award given from National Ski Areas Association and resource partners for habitat-sensitive resort operations.
Snowshoe Stewards 2009-Environmental Science Program
High School and Middle School students trained to be snowshoe guides leading and educating their peers in the field. Curriculum is supported by teachers at the school, incorporating specific topics in the classroom prior to in-the-field training.
Nominated by Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest for sustained support in Forest Service programs, leader in environmental sensitivity and willingness to try new approaches to resource stewardship.
Acclaimed international program requires demonstration that resort maintains a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas. The Telluride Golf Course has been a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary since 2002, meeting strict criteria for water conservation, habitat protection, biodiversity conservation, reduced chemical use and water quality management.