Our Responsibility to the Environment
At Marmot Basin, we are proud of where we live, work and play. Protecting and enhancing the environment remains at the forefront of our corporate objectives. Our focus is to balance the competitive progress of our ski area with the pristine environment in which we operate. We continue to be leaders in the application of environmental management, stewardship and best practices, while delivering a world class guest experience. We are proving that it is possible to enjoy the unparalleled opportunities for winter recreation at Marmot Basin and be environmentally conscious as well!
Marmot Basin is situated within Canada’s largest Rocky Mountain National Park, Jasper National Park—an area so majestic, it is considered a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. We recognize our weighty responsibility to the environment. That is why we continue to work closely with Parks Canada, the Canadian government as well as consultancy firms such as Golder Associates, AMPEE and the Jasper Leaseholders Group to achieve development that not only preserves, but improves our environment.
Most recently, Marmot Basin is the first of the four ski areas located in the Canadian Rocky Mountain National Park system to negotiate its Vision Statement and Site Guidelines with Parks Canada, which will help direct our long-range land use plans. Our mutual agreement has resulted in a “substantial environmental gain” (about 18% of Marmot Basin’s leasehold) to provide greater habitat to a number of wildlife and vegetation species including the woodland caribou. Moreover, the four Rocky Mountain National Park ski areas have completed a Best Practices Manual for the environment to which Marmot Basin adheres.
Our environmental strategy is multi-pronged but can be broken down into four main categories:
- Combating Climate Change
- Wildlife and Vegetation Conservation
- Respecting the Land and Resources
- Managing our Waste
Combating Climate Change
We love the winter more than most people – snow is not only our livelihood but also our passion, so we feel particularly motivated to do our part to combat global warming. Here are a few examples of our efforts:
Marmot Basin is one of the only ski areas in Western Canada (and one of a handful in North America) that reduces its carbon footprint by over 10, 000 tons of CO2 per year by organizing staff and guest transportation to and from the ski area.
- More CO2 emissions are reduced by guests taking advantage of the group transportation and door-to-door service, leaving their vehicles behind at their hotels
- The majority of summer and winter team take staff transportation (vans and buses) to get to and from work
- Fuel is stored in above ground, double-walled “Enviro” tanks to reduce the chance of spills
- All waste oils & solvents are stored in spill-proof containers & trucked off site for recycling
- Marmot Basin’s new 4-cycle snowmobiles are 80 times more efficient than standard 2-cycle snowmobile engines. We are active participants in the Prinoth Key Performance Indicators program aimed at reducing fuel usage for our five snow groomers.
- Marmot Basin shuts down all unnecessary electrical power sources at the end of our operating season to minimize energy usage – almost half of the year
- We use long life light bulbs & L.E.D. lights wherever possible
- We use photo cells & timers to turn off lights and other equipment like boot dryers so they do not run unnecessarily
- Snowmaking operations run primarily at non-peak energy consumption hours (i.e. at night) in order to minimize strain on electrical supply
- Marmot Basin actively participates in the ATCO SMART program aimed at reducing energy usage
- Marmot Basin installed energy-saving heat curtains at our Rental floor entrance
- We have installed double-circuit lighting used where possible allowing the user to minimize electrical lighting in offices, etc.
- Marmot Basin employees are trained to minimize wasteful uses of energy
- Marmot Basin uses 15 state-of-the-art, energy efficient fan guns for snowmaking called Super PoleCat by Snow Machines Incorporated.
- We use solar and wind energy to power the wireless internet system and web cams
Wildlife and Vegetation Management: “Sharing the Slopes”
Ensuring the safety of park wildlife, our staff and guests is paramount. Here are a few ways we share the slopes:
- Species at risk (especially bears & other large mammals) share Marmot Basin with us in summer
- Staff members undergo training in the summer to learn how to deal with wildlife. Winter staff members train to promote environmental preservation
- Our grooming practices distribute snow to protect vegetation
- LavaGrip (an environmentally safe anti-slip product) is used around our facilities in order to keep salt out of the water shed.
- Extensive reclamation & monitoring of reclaimed sites occurs after any excavation
- Soil and vegetative material is treated in accordance with Parks Canada standards for any and all excavations – from fence repair to major infrastructure developments – filter cloth is used to protect vegetation left on the ground, sod mats & vegetative materials are stripped & laid on filter cloth, topsoil is stripped & laid on filter cloth (separate from vegetative material), mineral soil is stripped & laid on filter cloth (separate from topsoil AND vegetative material), vegetation & soils are covered with tarps to minimize erosion, excess soils and sod mats are stored for reclamation use
- Marmot Basin’s new video conferencing capabilities allow people from Marmot, Parks Canada and the Grande Yellowhead Public School Division to foster new environmental stewardship through education and awareness.
- All outside workers involved in construction that could impact wildlife while working at Marmot Basin must undergo a wildlife orientation session with Parks Canada for personal safety and wildlife preservation.
- Following Parks Canada and CEAA guidelines, all Marmot Basin projects undergo flora and fauna studies. Marmot Basin is embarking on a 3-year caribou study in the Whistler Creek area in partnership with Parks Canada.
Respecting the Land and Resources
As stewards of this special and protected area, the environment is top of mind when considering any development of infrastructure. Here are a few examples of our commitment to best practices environmentally:
- We employ the technique of “glading” (selective tree removal) as opposed to run cutting as demonstrated on the Chalet Slope and on Eagle’s East. For our environmental stewardship in that enterprise, Marmot Basin was awarded the Jasper National Park Stewardship Award in 2004
- Run cutting off of the Eagle Ridge Chair is designed to make use of large natural openings in the forest to reduce tree removal
- Laser instruments are used for survey work – reduces cutting of trees
- Marmot Basin is the first and only National Park ski area to have undergone the CEAA process (for the development of the Eagle Ridge quad chair & serviced area)
- Tree stumps are flush cut to prevent soil erosion and they, along with other woody debris are removed by helicopter.
Water Quality & Conservation
Marmot Basin’s water supply comes from natural, underground streams on the mountain that flow year-round. All excess water not used in our operation continues down to the Athabasca Valley and all wastewater undergoes treatment to ensure we maintain the health of the watershed. We work closely with Parks Canada on all areas of water usage within our operation.
- We plow snow off of steep areas, roads and creeks at the end of the season to channel run off and minimize soil erosion
- We replaced 39 (83%) of our toilets with Vacusan models; 10 (72%) of Marmot Basin’s urinals have also been replaced with waterless models saving thousands of gallons of water a year
- Spring-loaded taps in washrooms conserve water
- Marmot Basin uses 15 state-of-the-art, energy efficient fan guns for snowmaking
- We use vegetable based lubricant on all haul ropes on our lifts.
Managing our Waste
Marmot Basin is constantly seeking ways to reduce waste sent to our local landfill site through efforts to reduce, reuse & recycle. The following are some of the efforts being made to increase waste reduction:
- Our garbage compactor reduces trips to town from once a day to once every 5-6 weeks
- We employ a strict recycling program for all cardboard, paper, plastics & glass
- We recycle road gravel used in winter and place it onto existing access roads around the mountain
- Our hydroxyl system removes algae & suspended solids before releasing treated effluent
- Every year all summer staff (including the President and management of Marmot Basin) participates in a summer garbage cleanup – picking up garbage and recycling left behind after the melting snow
- Bio-detergents are used in all Food & Beverage outlets
- High velocity hand dryers are used in washrooms rather than paper towels
- We do not sell cigarettes in any of our facilities
- We use FSC environmentally friendly paper for the printing of our brochures
- The rubber flooring in our rental and guest services area is made from recycled tires
- We collect and recycle used motor oil
- The grease from our deep fryers is recycled.