words by Melissa Fields
Though Powder Mountain is often referred to as Utah’s best kept secret, this 8,000-acre resort’s prolific natural snowfall (averaging 380 inches annually), ample elbowroom (day ticket and season pass sales are limited), and minimalist, Norwegian-inspired lodging combine to create a soulful appeal beloved by adventure seekers from around the world.
The reasons why Powder Mountain’s ownership and management have allowed the mountain to take center stage span much more than the guest experience, however. According to Powder Mountain’s website, “environmental conservation and sustainability are core pillars of Powder Mountain’s values.”
One of the ways this northern Utah resort is making good on that pledge is the strict guidelines under which all resort development occurs. For example, everything built as part of Summit Powder Mountain must comply with ICC-700 National Green Building Standards (similar to LEED certification), which encourage clean, modern and artistic design and prevent the proliferation of large, lodge-style homes so common in other ski towns. In fact, home sizes at Powder Mountain are limited to no more than 3,500 square feet and all are required to be built with lightweight steel stilts—a solution to manage Powder Mountain’s massive snowfall without the need of traditional fossil-fuel burning equipment.
On the snowmaking front, artificial snowmaking simply does not exist at Powder Mountain. “While relying on Mother Nature may affect, and even shorten, our ski season, the sustainability impact and experience makes it worth it,” says J.P. Goulet, Powder Mountain director of marketing and base operations. “Producing artificial snow leaves a harmful impact on the environment, including the use of an abundance of electricity and water. Installing underground piping on the mountain also leaves marks on its natural land and artificial snow also negatively impacts spring plants and animals who live in that environment.”
Other ways Powder Mountain is striving to remain conscientious stewards of the land on which it operates include: partnering with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah State University (USU) to serve as a banding station for the rosy finch, a rare bird residing in mountaintops throughout North America; supporting efforts by the U.S. Forest Service, Utah Department of Natural Resources and USU in studying and removing invasive parasites that kill certain types of conifers in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming; planting more than 5,000 trees; eliminating single-use plastic bottles; and employing a full-time Ecosystem Specialist tasked with keeping resource consumption to a bare minimum.
In February 2022, a sustainability project almost five years in the making came to fruition when Powder Mountain and the Ogden Valley Land Trust announced that 877 acres at the resort had been placed into a conservation easement, protections that preserve the land for wildlife habitat, viewshed protection, agricultural use and recreation into perpetuity. The total acreage at Powder Mountain now preserved under conservation easement totals more than 1,500 acres.
“Powder Mountain is thrilled to work with Ogden Valley Land Trust to preserve the lower sections of Wolf Creek Canyon for future generations to enjoy,” says Mark Schroetel, Powder Mountain general manager. “The area provides vital habitat for local wildlife and exceptional recreational opportunities for members of our community.”
For more on how Powder Mountain is working to protect the environment, visit powdermountain.com/community.
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