To The Editor:
Almost 30 years ago The Valley was embroiled in a water withdrawal controversy when Sugarbush, under different management from today's, proposed to make snow by withdrawing water from the Mad River at very low winter levels. Increased snowmaking capacity was necessary for the resort's continued existence. On the other hand, water withdrawals at low winter levels are a hazard that can threaten fish habitat and ecological health. It was a long, bitter battle that ended when the resort agreed – after multiple legal challenges – to store more water taken at higher flows (the proposed snowmaking pond was significantly expanded) and to leave an ecologically sustainable flow in the river during winter.
This year, under new management that has shown remarkable respect for the environment, Sugarbush has been recognized with a national environmental leadership award. It is an exciting piece of news for Valley residents and visitors, many of whom appreciate the opportunity to get outdoors in any season, respect the crucial role of skiing in the local economy, value a clean environment and love healthy aquatic habitat in the Mad River – sometimes for fishing, sometimes just for knowing our beloved river is healthy.
Thanks to our local resorts for their serious approach to many environmental priorities, including energy conservation, land management, wildlife protection, emissions (including those related to climate change that threatens ski resorts around the world), public transportation, water use, recycling and other environmental priorities. Sometimes battles between environment and economy are neither necessary nor inevitable, and corporate leadership can help address significant environmental challenges.