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A test drive for the sustainable ski industry model

Grassroots group strives toward sustainable ski industry.

Mountain Rider’s Alliance partners with sustainable engineering group to refine vision

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Mountain Rider’s Alliance vision for a sustainable ski industry is about to grow some flesh and bones, as the grassroots group partners with a well-known engineering firm to develop specific plans for carbon-neutral, net-zero-energy ski areas.

The partnership between MRA and the Brendle Group with forge toward a new model for sustainability in the ski industry, focused on alternative business models for small and medium-sized resorts.

For starters, the Brendle Group will develop and test a model for sustainability at Mt. Abram that can be replicated elsewhere, starting with comprehensive assessments of energy use, land use, procurement, and community sustainability to identify options for net zero carbon, energy, and water operations as well as integrating sustainability and local economic development. Continue reading

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Crowdfunding helps new ski industry vision emerge

The future of skiing is now.

Support the future of skiing!

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The prevailing corporate model of ski area ownership and management may not have run out of gas completely, but it’s sputtering along, sustained mainly by cannibalizing itself through more mergers and vertical integration (by which large corporations buy up retail and rental outlets, lodging and transportation facilities, as well as trying to dominate media, marketing and social media).

In short, the ski industry for the most part has become a monopolistic juggernaut. It may serve the short-term financial interests of Wall Street on a quarter-to-fiscal quarter-basis, but anyone with a lick of common sense can see that it’s not sustainable in the long-term.

Like the dinosaurs, it’s too big for its own circulatory system, and like the dinosaurs, it’s going to go extinct in its present form, perhaps when the next bubble breaks on the handful of giant real estate investment trusts that now control most of the base area real estate at resorts around the country. Continue reading

Alternate vision for ski industry manifests in Maine

A new future for skiing is dawning at Mt. Abram. Photo courtesy Mountain Rider’s Alliance/Mt. Abram.

Sustainability, and people before profit, will be the guiding principles for a partnership between the Mountain Rider’s Alliance and Mt. Abram

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Mountain Rider’s Alliance is one step closer to manifesting its long-term vision for an alternate model for ski resort ownership and operation.

This week, the organization announced an agreement to partner with the Mt. Abram ski area in Maine to try out a new ownership and management model aimed at boosting regional visitation, increasing awareness of sustainability issues, and focusing on the core values of skiing.

MRA is currently raising funds for the deal through crowd-sourcing and social media with the Support the Future of Skiing campaign at indiegogo.com.

When the details are finalized, potentially next spring, the ski area will sell membership shares to the public, loosely based on a co-op business model. The membership shares  will offer a variety of benefits and privileges. Members will hold elections and be represented in a dialog with ski area management. Continue reading

Mountain news roundup

Raging rivers, roaring wildfires, spewing volcanoes and a South Pole adventure

The Blue River at Valley Brook in Breckenridge. Photo by Jenney Coberly

Compiled by Jenney Coberly

Elk River breaks stream flow record

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Elk River broke its all-time record early Tuesday morning, according to provisional data recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey. A measuring station at the Routt County Road 42 bridge measured the peak at 7,520 cubic feet per second at 4:45 am on Tuesday.

“Preliminarily, that is a new peak of record,” said Michael Lewis, associate director of the USGS Colorado Water Science Center.

Read the full story at Steamboat Today.

Continue reading

Skiing: Mountain Rider’s Alliance moving on AK project

Manitoba Mountain, in the Chugach Mountains on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, is the proposed site of a sustainable ski area redevelopment project by the Mountain Rider's Alliance.

Vision for sustainable ski resort development taking shape on the Kenai Peninsula; new website launched for Manitoba Mountain project

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Mountain Rider’s Alliance is generating some buzz about its planned low-impact Alaska ski area restoration project with the launch of a new website.

SkiManitoba.com is giving some shape to the dream of a sustainable ski area development model for the 21st century, and the alliance intends to file a formal application this coming October.

As outlined on the website, Manitoba Mountain involves restarting a ski area in the Kenai Mountains on the Chugach National Forest  that last operated in the 1960s. Three surface lifts would access about 10,000 acres of terrain and a focus on renewable energy production as part of the project includes exploring micro-hydropower and wind-generated electricity. The long-term goal is to make the area energy self-sufficient and perhaps even a net producer of renewable energy. Continue reading

Ski group plans to restore historic Alaska resort

Is this the future of skiing? PHOTO COURTESY MOUNTAIN RIDER'S ALLIANCE.

Lift-served skiing in the Chugach could help provide economic stability for small towns in the area

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Mountain Rider’s Alliance, a collective of progressive-minded skiers and riders, says its ready to begin the preliminary permitting process for a sustainable, low impact ski center in Alaska, with an emphasis on the community, environment and skiing.

The alliance plans to sell reasonably priced investment shares to both the local and global ski communities to help fund the revival of Manitoba Mountain. Fascinating history of Manitoba Mountain online here.

Mountain Rider’s Alliance project manager Dave Scanlan will outline a proposal for the Manitoba Mountain Ski Area Restoration Project at the Girdwood Library on Thursday, February 24th at 6 p.m. Following the presentation, a question and answer session will be held and community feedback will be encouraged.

Manitoba Mountain is located at Mile 49 on the Seward Highway at the site of the Historic Manitoba Ski Area and the Glacier Ski Lodge that operated from 1941 to 1959. The earliest recorded history of skiing on the Kenai Peninsula was in 1790. Continue reading

A new vision for the ski industry

SIRJJ Organics sponsors Summit Voice snowsports coverage. Click for more info.

A global collaborative explores ski industry sustainability

 

The Mountain Rider's Alliance wants to develop sustainable ski-energy centers.

 

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — When Hal Clifford penned Downhill Slide back in 2002, it was the peak of the go-go years for the ski resort industry. Many ski resort operators were morphing into development companies for whom the skiing and riding were amenities to be used as a marketing tool for real estate sales.

Clifford’s warnings were laughed off or ignored by the short-sighted speculators who were driving the boom. In hindsight, they would have been better off paying attention to his conclusion that the industry’s path was unsustainable.

Nobody thought the end of the boom would come so quickly, though. But now, after a couple of years of moribund sales and almost no new real estate development at major resorts, even the big boys are looking for an alternate vision.

That vision may come from a core group of skiers and riders who want to take the ski industry in a completely new direction, operating areas that are rider-centric, environmentally sustainable and sensitive to local cultural, social and economic concerns.

Billing itself as a global collaborative, the Mountain Rider’s Alliance last week launched the way so many 21st century endeavors start — with a website, a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account — all to forge connections and give some concrete shape to the dream. Continue reading

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