Diamond Peak Ski Resort Achieves Stoke Certification For Sustainability
Renowned for its panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, Diamond Peak Ski Resort is now recognized for their sustainability initiatives as the first ski resort in Lake Tahoe to become STOKE Certified. As one of the early adopters of the STOKE Snow certification program during the 2015/16 season, the community-owned ski resort has been diligently following their Roadmap Report to achieve best practices in snowmaking, interpretation, waste diversion, and community development.
STOKE Certified—the Sustainable Tourism Operator’s Kit for Evaluation—is the world’s first sustainability certification body with standards built specifically for surf and ski tourism operators. The organization was founded with a mission to assist resorts in developing systematic approaches to sustainability, environmental responsibility, customer loyalty, and staff retention.
“My love for snowboarding, and passion for protecting mountain playgrounds was born from my first turns above Lake Tahoe at Diamond Peak,” said STOKE Certified Co-Founder Carl Kish. “Ultimately, it’s what inspired me to create STOKE. This has come full circle for me and words cannot describe how grateful I am to Diamond Peak for believing in STOKE from day one and representing the program with integrity.”
During the 2017/18 ski season, Diamond Peak was evaluated against the 110 criteria in the STOKE Snow standard by an independent evaluator, Pete Blanchard. The ski area achieved an overall compliance score of 78% across all four categories of sustainability performance, making it the second STOKE Certified ski area behind Oregon’s Mt. Ashland Ski Area.
“I’ve been fortunate to call this mountain home for my entire career,” said Mike Bandelin, Diamond Peak’s general manager who has worked his way up from a parking lot attendant at the resort back in 1984. “A lot has changed over the years, but Diamond Peak still has that friendly, local feel and remains dedicated to the community and our environment. STOKE provided us a roadmap to make short and long-term strategic changes for achieving a more sustainable future of Diamond Peak Ski Resort. I’m extremely proud of everyone here for making this achievement possible.”
With the historic Incline Flume Trail intersecting the ski area's boundaries and ski runs seemingly ending right into Lake Tahoe, Diamond Peak exemplifies the region’s unique heritage and stunning natural beauty. New for the 2017/18 season, skiers and riders could take a guided skiing and riding interpretive tour of the mountain’s cultural heritage, ecosystem functions of the Tahoe Basin, and the ski resort’s sustainability initiatives.
Part of the resort’s new Interpretation Program is a series of witty signage on trash cans, lift towers, and chair-backs designed to inspire skiers and riders to partake in everyday initiatives that Keep Tahoe Blue. To drive this home, Diamond Peak partnered with the creative artists behind the Take Care Tahoe campaign, a group of organizations working together to help inspire a sense of community and environmental responsibility in the Tahoe region.
In the spirit of educating the next generation of mountain stewards, the ski resort commissioned local Reno-based illustrator, Kate O’Hara, to create a children’s coloring book featuring flora and fauna native to the resort for the Children’s Ski Center. In the revived Sierra Scouts lesson program, instructors teach school group ski classes about topics that correspond to locations on the mountain with interpretive signs about the environment. Upon completion of the program, students are awarded the Sierra Snow Ranger badge.
Sustainability Coordinator for Diamond Peak and the Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID), Joseph Hill—who created the ski resort’s Interpretation Plan, guides the mountain tours, and leads many of IVGID’s Waste Not initiatives—added “It’s been an honor to step into this role at IVGID to support the ski resort as well as the community in creating and achieving its conservation and community development goals. The STOKE process has proven invaluable to the success of sustainability on the mountain and in Incline Village and we look forward to working closely with STOKE to keep improving by sourcing 100% renewable energy and progressing towards zero waste.”
Diamond Peak has averaged 36% waste diversion via recycling since they started recording statistics during the 2014/15 winter season, including creative ideas such as reusing old trail map signage in new terrain park features. This practice has avoided 446 metric tons of CO2 from 2015–2017, equivalent to removing 95 cars from the road for one year.
In line with this year’s Earth Day theme to end plastic pollution, the ski resort has been striving diligently to reduce the sale and use of single-use plastic water bottles. To aid this effort, they have installed more hydration stations, campaigned for Drink Tahoe Tap, and began selling custom reusable water pouches, which has led to a 34% reduction in water bottle sales (2,409 fewer bottles compared to the 2016/17 season).
Recognizing its privileged access to Lake Tahoe water through IVGID for all of its snowmaking needs, Diamond Peak has invested millions into watershed restoration efforts and the addition of 28 high-efficiency HKD snow guns and towers over the last three years. While the use of PistenBully's SnowSat snow depth monitoring technology maximizes the efficient use of natural snow and man-made snow to reduce the need for snowmaking in patchy areas.
For a detailed list of Diamond Peak’s best practices with photos, visit their STOKE Certified profile at https://www.stokecertified.com/members/diamond-peak/. To view a video about the STOKE certification process and learn more about Diamond Peak’s efforts, visit https://www.diamondpeak.com/mountain/environmental-efforts.
STOKE (Sustainable Tourism Operator’s Kit for Evaluation) Certified is the world’s first sustainability certification body with standards built specifically for surf and ski tourism operators, destinations, and affiliated events. Through its network of independent evaluators, STOKE verifies the legitimacy of sustainability claims and provides transparency for the riding community through its certification programs—STOKE Surf, STOKE Snow, and STOKE Events. STOKE has 21 members in 10 countries across all of its certification programs. For more information on STOKE’s members, sector-specific tools and templates, and certification process, go to http://www.stokecertified.com/.