Recently, Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Colorado hosted a Conservation Summit where they invited other nearby ski and ride areas and conservation centers to share their sustainability programs. Attendees included Arapahoe Basin, the Cloud City Conservation Center, Eagle/Summit Conservation, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, and High Country Conservation Center from Colorado, and Utah’s Snowbird Resort.
Copper’s Seed Program Increases Biodiversity and Reduces Carbon in the Atmosphere
Copper Mountain presented on their conservation efforts which include a seed program to increase biodiversity and reduce carbon in the atmosphere. Started in 2019, the program involves volunteers and employees collecting seeds from native, flowering plants on the mountain every summer, documenting them, putting them through a faux winter. They then disperse the seeds the following season in hopes of germination. Collecting seeds that are drought tolerant and more resilient to resistance allows for a quicker restoration period and increases the amount of biodiversity in the area. Copper Mountain is also collecting seeds of legumes which use a large amount of carbon during photosynthesis, a process that reduces the resort’s carbon footprint.
Copper Mountain is also working with Southwest University in Texas on a carbon sequestration soil study. The university selected five separate sites and established three plots at each site for the soil study. At each site, the first plot is not treated, the second plot receives some native seeds, and the third plot receives native seed and local compost. The researches will return after five years and after 10 years to monitor species composition, soil health, and carbon pools. They hope to offset emissions by sequestering one gram of carbon per every meter of land.
Other Industry Initiatives
The following summit attendees shared their efforts and successes:
- Blue River Watershed Group restored a 1-mile stretch of the Ten Mile Creek near Copper Mountain between 2013 and 2016. This effort resulted in increased fish habitat, wetland functions, and biodiversity.
- Arapahoe Basin used a Spider tractor to reduce impact on the grounds while traversing the mountain for updates. They’ve also turned to felling trees (instead of logging trees) and installed on-mountain educational signs about sustainability and climate change.
- Snowbird recreated their partnership with the local Forest Service which increases operating efficiencies. Snowbird has also started using biocement for select new buildings and lift towers.
Many ski and ride areas are working towards creating a healthier ecosystem that is more sustainable for the future.