Environmental Conservation at Sugarloaf
Sugarloaf is committed to preserving the natural beauty of the western mountains of Maine and our environment as a whole. Through innovative programs involving waste management, community outreach, bio-fuels, waste water treatment, and low energy snowmaking, Sugarloaf has been recognized and certified as a leader in the resort industry.
Environmental awareness at Sugarloaf starts with the resort’s Environmental Code of Conduct, which is printed on the very first page of Sugarloaf’s Supervisory Manual. It states:
- We work in a fragile mountain environment. Our work will certainly impact this environment. Our goal is to minimize this impact, while still accomplishing our objectives. We will achieve this goal by evaluating the environmental impact of each job before it is started, and ensure that the protection of the environment will be considered throughout the entire project. Through our efforts we will strive to preserve the integrity of the mountain’s natural resources, upon which Sugarloaf’s existence relies.
This Code of Conduct is carried out through the implementation of ten concrete performance standards, to which all on-mountain projects and activities must adhere. With this Code in mind Sugarloaf has been able to achieve numerous successes, while continually learning and striving to reduce its impact on the surrounding environment.
Recognizing that education is the key to environmental awareness, Sugarloaf has initiated and engaged in numerous community outreach programs to promote conservation throughout the resort and its surrounding communities.
Sugarloaf’s educational outreach begins at a young age, with active participation in classrooms at local school departments including Carrabassett Valley Academy, Mt. Abram High School, Kingfield Elementary, and Stratton Elementary, to instill conservation minded values in local youth. Sugarloaf also hosts the Outdoor Adventure Camp during the summer months, making environmental awareness and education a year round commitment.
Sugarloaf’s environmental education reaches all ages, with annual employee orientation programs that incorporate the resorts conservation initiatives, as well as community outreach programs including annual composting workshops.
The effects of this community outreach are evident through rampant participation in waste management programs, as well as community events, including the annual Earth Day cleanup and celebration held every year on April 22.
For the past several years, Sugarloaf has been on the leading edge of technological advancements in snowmaking equipment, which have allowed the resort to greatly expand its snowmaking capacity without increasing its energy consumption.
Since the 06-07 season, Sugarloaf has utilized an ever growing fleet of low-energy HKD snowguns, which are able to produce the same amount of snow as traditional equipment, while using 40 percent less energy.
In 2012, Sugarloaf was awarded a $300,000 grant from Efficiency Maine, which it used toward a $1 million investment in 300 new low-energy HKD snowguns, the most advanced snowmaking technology on the market today.
Kimberly Truskowski, Sugarloaf’s Environmental Steward
Kimberly Truskowski works as Sugarloaf's Environmental Steward, with the task of evaluating and improving the resort’s relationship with its natural surroundings. Truskowski, who is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine and was the director of USM Recycles, has played a key role in securing grants and implementing numerous methods through which the mountain has been able to reduce its environmental footprint. She has been the driving force behind Sugarloaf's heralded and comprehensive waste managements programs.
A major focus at Sugarloaf for the past several years has been the waste-management program. Using the time tested philosophy of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, Sugarloaf and the Town of Carrabassett Valley have been able to introduce ground breaking and overwhelmingly effective waste reduction programs. Last year alone these programs kept more than 100 tons of waste out of landfills.
Several years ago Sugarloaf and Carrabassett Valley were the recipients of a grant from the Maine State Planning Office to begin a pilot composting program. Fast forward to present day, and nearly 100 percent of area restaurants participate in the programs, which now composts both pre and post consumer food waste, which in turn creates horticultural “Black Gold” – a nutrient rich soil amendment that is used on the Sugarloaf Golf Course and throughout the community in public gardens.
In addition to the composting program, Sugarloaf is home to one of the most comprehensive recycling programs in the resort industry. Far from the standard bottle and can recycling bin program, Sugarloaf currently recycles 23 different types of waste, including all grades of paper, cardboard, all metal, fluorescent lightbulbs, #2 plastics, cans and bottles, all types of glass, cell phones, laser toner cartridges, batteries, motor oil, latex paint cans, tires, computers, stereos, TVs, PCB Ballasts, mercury items, and antifreeze.
The resort’s Waste Management programs have been so successful over the years that Sugarloaf received a grant from the Maine State Planning Office to create a video about the programs, which is now being used throughout the state of Maine as a tool to encourage other businesses to participate in similar initiatives.
Snowfluent Plant – A Novel Solution to and Age-Old Problem
Wastewater treatment is often a challenge for resort towns, where wastewater amounts rise dramatically during winter months, when treatment is typically most difficult. In response to this issue, Carrabassett Valley became home to the first Atomizing Freeze Crystallization facility, or Snowfluent Plant, in the world in 1995. In a nutshell, the plant treats roughly 26,000,000 gallons of wastewater per year by converting it to snow.
Snowfluent technology utilizes the natural purifying properties of the freezing process to remove impurities and toxins from the area’s water. The process is remarkably efficient, as the only pre-treatment required of the water is a few hours of retention in order to allow for the settling of larger solids.
Throughout the winter season, visitors can see the immense piles of snow at the plant across the valley.
Throughout the years soil erosion has emerged as one of the top threats to Maine’s water bodies, and as a result, Sugarloaf has actively pursued measures to prevent unnecessary erosion.
Erosion control at Sugarloaf begins with aggressive re-vegetation initiatives, including grass planting and mowing in areas that have been disturbed, and the introduction of an Advisory and Review Committee for all new construction projects. Sugarloaf has also utilized advanced equipment technologies for on-mountain projects, including the Brontosaurus, which essentially chews up trees from the top down, leaving the root structure intact to hold the soil in place.
Sugarloaf Golf Course
Sugarloaf’s conservation initiatives extend off of the slopes to the Sugarloaf Golf Course, which is certified in four of six categories in Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program – Integrated Pest Management, Water Conservation, Environmental Education, and Wildlife & Habitat.
The Golf Course utilizes bat and sparrow houses throughout the course to control the mosquito and black fly population.
Sugarloaf participated in the development and implementation of the National Ski Areas Association’s Sustainable Slopes Environmental Charter - a set of voluntary environmental principles to aid in ski area planning, operations and outreach. The Charter reaffirms the commitment ski areas have in improving environmental performance in all aspects of operations and managing their specific resorts, making possible their continued enjoyment by future generations - true sustainability.
What Skiers, Snowboarders, and Ski Area Guests can do to help:
Follow the Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics when visiting ski areas: Plan ahead and prepare: Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit, prepare for winter weather, and consider off-peak visits when scheduling your trip.
- Dispose of waste properly: Recycle your glass, plastics, aluminum and paper in appropriate receptacles, which are provided in all food areas. Reuse trail maps on your next visit or recycle them rather than throwing them away. Never throw trash, cigarette butts or other items from lifts.
- Respect wildlife: In summer and winter, stick to designated trails when hiking and biking to avoid disturbances to vegetation and wildlife.
- Be considerate of other guests: Respect other guests, protect the quality of their experience, and let nature’s sounds prevail.
- Carpool with friends and family or use transit to avoid traffic when traveling to and within ski area
- Turn off the lights when leaving your room and reuse bath towels and linens to help conserve energy and water.
- Provide feedback and let ski areas know how the can improve their environmental performance.