Blue Mountain Resort has a 40-year history of providing outdoor recreation for families to stay active and have fun while safeguarding our environment and supporting our local communities.
Blue Mountain is a family-operated, locally owned resort. The men and women who work at Blue Mountain live in our community. It’s their home and backyard. Blue Mountain’s team members are environmental stewards who love the outdoors. They are diligent in ensuring visitors give the same level of respect to this beautiful land.
Through numerous environmental initiatives, ranging from reducing energy and water use to preventing erosion and runoff – and much more – Blue Mountain is continuously deploying new programs and employing best practices. This environmental commitment ensures we’re continually improving and protecting Blue Mountain for future generations to enjoy summer and winter sports for decades to come.
Some visitors might not be aware, but the Appalachian Trail runs just a few hundred feet south of Blue Mountain’s upper ski trails. The Appalachian Trail stretches all the way from Maine to Georgia and traverses our own Kittatinny Ridge through Pennsylvania. Since the Trail’s inception, Blue Mountain has been a partner and friend to the Appalachian Trail. From helping clean-up visitor debris to providing water for firefighting along the trail and assisting in hiker rescues, we’ll always be an advocate of the Trail.
When the Appalachian Trail was established, we signed a protective easement with the U.S. Department of the Interior to manage land use near the Trail. Like ski resorts built in National Forests, this agreement supports ski resort and green season activities while protecting the Trail from inappropriate development. This partnership helps skiers, hikers, bird-watchers, and less physically-able alike to enjoy a natural setting with amenities that help everyone enjoy nature.
From the beginning, Blue Mountain has pioneered environmental conservation efforts natural to our surroundings. From recovering the heat from our snowmaking compressors to heat the ski lodge to pioneering a ski resort water treatment system, to creating best practices for erosion control, Blue Mountain acts locally to minimize our impact and increase our sustainability.
One of the first ski resorts to do so, in 2008, Blue Mountain hired an environmental services company to conduct a comprehensive energy audit of the resort to determine how and where it uses energy. This audit provided us with a road map to focus our efforts where improvements have the greatest impact on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Blue has been investing in what we learned ever since.
Nearly 80% of Blue Mountain’s energy use goes towards snowmaking. As a result, Blue Mountain has made significant investments to optimize its snowmaking. This state-of-the-art equipment has reduced annual snowmaking electric use by 5.6 million kilowatt-hours, and reduced our annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 5 million pounds. So far we’ve replaced over 300 of our original snow guns and added over 500 new, much more efficient snow guns. In fact, thirty of some of our latest new guns use the same energy of just one of our original snow guns! And thanks to these new snow guns and computerization, we can make snow faster on more ski trails using 30% less energy. You can read more about our snowmaking system here.
We’ve also replaced hundreds of light fixtures in all the lodges and maintenance buildings. This investment cut our electric use by an additional 250,000 kilowatt-hours, and further reduced CO2 emissions by 223,000 pounds.
We won’t be stopping there. We have found that we can further reduce our emissions by generating our own electric power and, with that generation, heating and cooling our buildings. We are working on a project to implement what is called Combined Heat & Power (CHP), one of the first ski resorts to implement it on a comprehensive basis. With CHP, we will ultimately cut our greenhouse emissions to less than half what they are today.
Water is the foundation of winter sports and our ecosystem. Blue Mountain takes water conservation and protecting our water supplies very seriously. Our water initiatives include:
- Ensuring the water used in snowmaking is kept in its natural state and that it naturally returns unchanged back into the same stream waters from which it came, consistent with its natural seasonal cycle.
- Reducing our guests treated water consumption by over 1 million gallons per year through water use assessment and repurposing. Since enacting our water changes, we’ve reduced our treated water use by over 3 million gallons.
- Pioneering our internal sewage treatment system to fully support very large quantities of visitors while remaining fully compatible with the “High Quality – Cold Water Fishes” designated Aquashicola Creek. All of our water comes from the creek and returns to the creek while keeping the creek a safe haven for recreational fishing and drinking water supplies.
- Working with Carbon Conservation District and Pennsylvania DEP to develop a natural spring mitigation and recovery method that is used as a model throughout the district and state.
Maintaining a recreational area with steep slopes while protecting the natural ecosystems is a challenge. Blue Mountain has developed new techniques and scouted for others to pioneer ways to best achieve this balance.
- Erosion control and runoff are especially difficult challenges for the steep slopes of ski areas, but Blue Mountain’s initiatives to address them have stood-out as among the best. We are extremely proud of the pioneering work we’ve done with the Carbon Conservation District, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and our suppliers. Our erosion and runoff prevention measures have resulted in new turf-establishment methodology that has now become a standard.
- Drainage and water flow management are essential to land protection at Blue Mountain. That’s why we’ve used pervious pavement in newer parking areas, sidewalks and waterpark paths. Pervious pavement eliminates the need for detention ponds, which require additional land clearing and ecosystem alteration.
- Blue Mountain tags existing trees to ensure their protection and plants new trees along its ski trails to protect skiers, the terrain and forest boundaries.
- We’re also aware that activity at Blue Mountain can impact area wildlife along the Appalachian Trail. To reduce our impact, the lighting, signage and building structures we have installed are sensitive to our wooded area and go virtually unnoticed by hikers on the Trail.
Thanks to these, and other efforts, you will find the woods and meadows at Blue Mountain teeming with indigenous plants and animals and the streams running clear.
“It’s my firm belief that we can balance environmental protection with economic growth, and the two are not mutually exclusive. Blue Mountain is a prime example of this belief being borne out.”
Senator John Yudichak-Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee Democratic Chairman
“For four decades, the family operating Blue Mountain has drawn millions of visitors to Carbon County and supported thousands of jobs. As they have added amenities over the years, they have also protected and enhanced the environment that their visitors come to enjoy.”
PA State Senator David Argall
“Blue Mountain takes environmental stewardship very seriously, and is a committed friend and partner of the National Park Service and Appalachian Trail Conservancy.”
-PA State Representative Doyle Heffley