The Ski Area Citizens' Coalition recently released an environmental scorecard for ski areas in the western United States. The group ranked 82 resorts based on a number of criteria including renewable energy initiatives, habitat protection and environmental management policies. Seven Montana ski areas made the report, in which the coalition noted an overall decline in energy efficiency compared to the 2009-2010 season.
Montana Snowbowl ranked dead last among the 82 resorts with a score of 47.4 percent. Snowbowl got dinged badly due to an expansion plan announced earlier this year. The plan calls for cutting on 39 acres of old growth forest to clear new trails on TV Mountain, and the coalition didn't take a shine to the inclusion of 654 acres of critical lynx habitat in the expansion area. The resort also lost points here and there for not installing low-flow water fixtures, for failing to utilize renewable energy options like biodiesel and wind power, and for not actively addressing climate change in its operations. The coalition gave Snowbowl a "D."
The other Montana resorts that made the list won comparably better grades. Moonlight Basin and Bridger Bowl both got "A"s, Big Sky and Red Lodge got "B"s, and Whitefish and Lost Trail both got "C"s. None of the resorts were ranked higher than 80 percent, however, leaving us to believe the coalition graded on a ski curve.