Global warming trends have obvious implications for ski areas. Although the demise of winter recreation would have a devastating impact on all of our local snow sport enthusiasts, the loss of snow pack in the mountains would potentially have much greater catastrophic ramifications for life, period, in Southwest Montana. Bridger Bowl would be one of the more obvious victims of global warming. However, the issue is truly of global concern and taking measurable steps towards sustainability is a responsibility that we all share. While Bridger Bowl has taken an active role in sustainability practices in the past, we know that we still have room for improvement. Here is a summary of past and current efforts to address these issues within the Bridger Bowl organization:
Bridger Bowl is committed to operating our ski area in the most socially responsible manner possible. Energy and product purchases, waste stream management and care for the land will be conducted in an accountable manner consistent with prudent and environmentally sustainable practices.
In 2004, Bridger Bowl along with 70 other members of the National Ski Areas Association wrote letters of support to our congressional representatives urging them to pass the McCain-Lieberman sponsored Climate Stewardship Act. Through the Sustainable Slopes Initiative, NSAA has outlined specific industry goals addressing global warming concerns and sustainability issues. This season Bridger Bowl will be actively encouraging public support and participation through NSAA's 'Keep Winter Cool' program.
As a local community ski area, we are fortunate to be only 20 minutes from Bozeman. Most local residents only have to drive 16 to 20 miles each way to and from Bridger. Consequently, the collective carbon footprint is significantly less compared to those traveling 3 to 5 times that distance to ski or recreate. Despite our close proximity to Bozeman, we still strongly encourage local residents to carpool whenever possible.
Bridger Bowl has a Sustainability Committee completed the Yellowstone Business Partnership's Uncommon Sense program in 2009. This is a very action and results oriented program, primarily designed to help businesses recognize, measure and reduce their waste stream as well as make better decisions in purchasing, consumption and management practices related to sustainability. This committee in turn works with departmental supervisors and other Bridger staff to effect positive changes throughout the organization. As stated in our Employee Handbook, "It is the responsibility of all employees to conduct themselves in a manner compliant with these practices. Our sustainability committee encourages ideas and suggestions from all Bridger Bowl employees to improve our efforts." We encourage all local business owners and managers to check out www.yellowstonebusiness.org/UncommonSense/ and adopt a sustatinability mission statement in their buisness plans.
Since the inception of Bridger Raptor Festival 14 years ago, Bridger Bowl has recognized the value of celebrating this major migratory route of the Golden Eagle and 16 other species of raptors each fall along the ridge of the Bridger Mountains. Along with the significant effort and partnerships with organizations such as Montana Outdoor Science School, Hawk Watch International, Gallatin National Forest, Montana Raptor Conservation Center and many others, we hope to raise awareness of this significant natural event and related environmental topics by connecting the general public to research regarding wildlife and promoting access and interpretation to the findings of the research. The Raptor Festival is a fun and educational family event complete with live bird demonstrations, raptor identification talks, children activities, conservation group exhibits and raptor migration viewing on Bridger's ridge. By providing these free events to the general public we hope to foster a greater understanding of our environment and appreciation of the local wildlife we enjoy at Bridger Bowl.
Bridger Bowl is the only ski area among seven major ski resorts in the greater Yellowstone region in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho that was recognized for its sustainable business practices and service as a nonprofit community ski area in National Geographic's Greater Yellowstone Region Geotourism Mapguide. This is what National Geographic says about Bridger Bowl ... " A renegade among major ski areas, Bridger Bowl operates as a nonprofit community amenity, eschewing the resort sprawl that drives other big hill operations. The facility has grown apace with Bozeman, from one rope tow and a quonset hut in 1955 to today's eight chair lifts and three day- lodges."
Bridger Bowl was also presented a plaque by the Gallatin National Forest in 2008 which states the following: "In Recognition of Bridger Bowl's exemplary efforts in their commitment to environmentally sustainable operations and care for National Forest lands."