I was born in New York City on a blisteringly hot August morning, but was taken directly to my parents’ farm in Litchfield, Connecticut. While we lived full-time in New York City, I always loved getting out and enjoying the beauty of the Northwest Connecticut Hills. Abutting our Litchfield property was the White Memorial Foundation, which consists of 4,000 acres that have been preserved for future generations to enjoy. I was lucky to be able to spend time in that special place. I was also fortunate to attend a boys’ camp on Great Moose Lake in Harmony, Maine, where I enjoyed numerous outdoor adventures, including fishing in the local streams, canoeing on the Allagash River, and climbing Mt. Katahdin. Those early life experiences taught me an appreciation for nature and for the importance of conservation. Much of my pleasure in skiing derives from being outdoors and enjoying the majestic views from the mountains. One of my greatest morning thrills is getting to the top of Upper Snowball for first tracks and looking out over the landscape of the Mad River Valley, which has been so carefully preserved by those who preceded us.
Today, the planet as we know it is facing a battle for its very existence. While the effects of climate change are broad—with some people experiencing more dire effects than others—we must all do our best to mitigate them. It can seem daunting to know what to do locally, when the world relies on fossil fuels for so much of its power. It is easy to talk about climate change, but much more difficult to know how to help—we wonder if we, individually, can really make a difference. But I firmly believe that a lot of small actions can add up to a big change. I remember first learning from the polar explorer Robert Swan about the hole in the ozone layer, after he observed it firsthand. Chlorofluorocarbons were subsequently banned, and now the ozone layer is repairing itself. People spoke up, action was taken, and now we are seeing the effects.
In May 2019, we at Sugarbush Resort were very honored to receive the Climate Change Impact Award at the annual National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) convention. We were recognized for having reduced CO2 emissions by 24.4 percent since 2014, which adds up to a little more than 1,000 tons. We achieved this largely through more efficient energy consumption, reducing our electricity use by 32 percent since 2013. This reduction was driven by our significant investment in low-energy snowmaking equipment, but we have also taken numerous other small steps to be environmentally responsible. For instance, we partnered with Green Lantern on the development of five solar fields, which are currently producing at least 2.5 megawatts of power annually. All of our new construction is energy efficient, we foster a no-idling policy, and we have installed electric-car chargers in a number of areas around the resort. We also take recycling and composting seriously, and have phased out plastic straws.
In 2012, we joined the NSAA Climate Challenge, a voluntary program that helps resorts quantify, track, and set goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, Sugarbush has become a major supporter of Protect Our Winters (POW), a climate advocacy group for the winter sports community, and of 1% for the Planet, whose members contribute 1 percent of their annual revenue to environmental organizations. I personally have joined the board of the Nature Conservancy in Vermont. These organizations, among many others, are actively working to implement local nature-based solutions to climate change. (For instance, a healthy acre of Vermont forest will absorb the yearly carbon emissions from twenty-two automobiles.) My team here at Sugarbush has profound respect for the environment, and we are committed to doing our part to help ensure that the winters we enjoy so much continue for future generations.
In this issue of the magazine, we celebrate our partners at Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, who are bringing joy and discovery to those with disabilities; we highlight our neighbor, Lawson’s Finest Liquids Brewery and Taproom, whose commitment to our community goes much further than great beer (which we sell in all our food and beverage outlets); we feature our legendary ski school, our mind-bending golf course, our grooming team, our ambassadors, and the first inductees into Sugarbush’s Wall of Fame. All of the above contribute to our mission of cultivating a spirit of lifelong adventure and camaraderie. And beneath all that is a fundamental appreciation for our Vermont climate—both the cold, snowy days and the warm, sunny ones—which we rely on to make everything here possible.