Four Utah ski resorts received A grades for their environmental performances last year in the 11th annual survey by the Ski Area Citizens' Coalition, which is based in California but includes Utah's Save Our Canyons.
All three Park City-area resorts made the top 10 among Western resorts. Park City Mountain Resort captured the No. 1 spot overall with a 93 percent rating out of 100. Deer Valley was fourth and Canyons Resort ninth. Of 10 Beehive State ski areas judged by the environmental group, Solitude Mountain Resort received the lowest grade a D.
Solitude General Manager David DeSeelhorst dismissed the report's relevance, contending his resort received low marks in many categories simply because he did not respond to the lengthy survey. A coalition spokeswoman acknowledged that Solitude's failure to respond hurt its score.
"I do about 90 percent of what all the other resorts do, but they don't give us any credit for it," DeSeelhorst said, adding he figures Solitude should have gotten a B grade. "This is a matter of the bigger the resort, the better the report because they have people [to answer the survey]. The little resorts always get punished in this report."
The coalition's scoreboard is based on 35 environmental criteria. Habitat protection is the most important, accounting for almost half of the grading system's possible points. Remaining points are divided between resorts' efforts to address global climate change, their attempts to protect the watershed and their overall "green" policies and practices.
Park City Mountain received A's in all four categories, including perfect scores for protecting habitat and the watershed. Its only major flaw was a lack of renewable energy generating capacity on site, the report said. Deer Valley and Canyons also received A's for land and water protections and overall policies, but each did a little worse than Park City Mountain in dealing with global climate change.
While Canyons received an A in habitat protection, Solitude took a sizable hit for the SkiLink proposal to connect the two resorts with a gondola.
DeSeelhorst objected again. "It's not even my proposal," he said. "And it's not even a bona fide proposal at this point."
Alta and Snowbird each received B grades from the coalition, with high ratings for habitat and watershed protection but bad reviews for their climate change positions and general application of sound environmental practices.
The U.S. Forest Service thinks more highly of the performances of the Little Cottonwood Canyon resorts. Both recently received awards for outstanding environmental stewardship from Dave Whittekiend, supervisor of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
Four Utah resorts received A grades from the Ski Area Citizens' Coalition in its ranking of resorts based on 35 criteria:
Park City Mountain • A, 93%
Deer Valley • A, 90%
Canyons • A, 86%
Sundance • A, 82%
Snowbird • B, 74%
Alta • B, 73%
Snowbasin • C, 66%
Brian Head • C, 65%
Brighton • C, 65%
Solitude • D, 58%
Source: Ski Area Citizens' Coalition