The Telluride Ski Resort was awarded for its effort in helping to create the San Juan Fens Partnership, "which allows for the continued study and protection of Fen-type wetlands in the San Juan Mountains and beyond," states the NSAA press release. "Telluride is providing staff time and equipment to aid in the monitoring, research and educational efforts of the fen protection program."
Telluride beat out other finalists Lutsen, Minn., and Steamboat for the award.
The Aspen Skiing Co. won the coveted Golden Eagle Award for overall environmental excellence, which the Telluride Ski Resort won in 2002. The other Silver Eagle winners were Sunshine Village of Alberta, Canada, for water conservation; Buck Hill of Minnesota for energy conservation/clean energy; Sierra-at-Tahoe of California for environmental education; Gore Mountain of New York for visual impact; Mt. Hood Meadows of Oregon for stakeholder relations; and Whistler/Blackcomb of British Columbia, Canada, for waste reduction and recycling.
The Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Excellence were established in 1993 to recognize the environmental achievements of ski areas. The awards honor members of the NSAA, which represents the majority of ski area owners and operators in North America. Clif Bar & Co., a maker of all-natural and organic energy and nutrition foods "committed to sustainability from the field to the final product," is administrator of the program.
Along with the Telluride Ski and Golf Resort, the San Juan Fens Partnership is made up of the Town of Mountain Village, the Town of Telluride, San Miguel County, the local grassroots environmental organization Sheep Mountain Alliance, Colorado State University, and the Mountain Studies Institute of Silverton in close cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Town of Telluride website for the partnership describes fens as "wetlands that are rich in organic peat matter and that support remarkable and rare plant and animal life." The partnership's mission is to "identify, study and ultimately protect the unique and ancient wetland ecosystems that are present in the San Juan Mountains."
Created in response to the 2001 Prospect Bowl expansion of the Telluride Ski Resort, the collaborative conservation effort was set up to oversee the work paid for by the ski area during the three years of pre- and post-construction of the expansion. The partnership gained national recognition for its work and upon completion of the ski area construction it decided to continue its mission to pursue funding for scientific research and expanded its scope from the Prospect Basin fens to the fens of the entire San Juan Mountains region. Today, the San Juan Fens Partnership oversees scientific research, monitoring and analyses of the fens in the San Juans region, as well as continues popular education about fens and their importance to local forest and alpine ecology. The Prospect Basin fen studies are the only studies of their type being performed in the United States.