being green 

By Christie Pashby Ah, the great outdoors. We live for it and many of us work for it, too. So, when we get a chance to enjoy the mountain environment, what can we do to keep the mountain an outdoor playground for years to come? How can we be as green as possible while celebrating the white? Arthur DeJong, head of Environmental Design and Natural Resource Management for Whistler-Blackcomb, says there are three simple steps that people can take to be environmentally friendly while on the mountain. First, take advantage of the numerous displays and presentations about the natural environment that are located on the mountain. Next time you're at mid-station on Blackcomb, check out the display on wilderness ecology and bear habitat. There's also interpretive displays at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler and Glacier Creek on Blackcomb. Rest for a few minutes at the top of 7th Heaven. Besides an incredible view, there's an "interpretive rendez-vous" with information and art on the local geology. DeJong hopes that by learning more about the mountain environment, skiers and riders will value and appreciate it more. Waste management is the primary focus of DeJong's team in the winter. "We're upgrading food facilities to have far less disposable items," he says. Fewer ketchup packages and plastic plates means less garbage needs to be brought back down to the village, although it also means more energy and water spent on dish washing. DeJong's assistant Allana Hamm did an extensive analysis and decided that washing dishes had less of an impact than heaps of plastic. When you head in for a coffee or lunch break, DeJong says guests can make a real difference by using as little disposable waste as possible. Put your garbage in the right place and put cigarette butts in the ashtrays, he says. There's plenty of simple ways for skiers and riders to cut down on waste and be more resourceful. "If you use a trail map, share it with a friend, pass it on," DeJong says. And finally, stay on the marked trails. DeJong knows people want to ski through the trees, but he says they'll often clip the trees and cut off branches. This deters the health of the forests. New runs are being designed that are gladed and trees spaced especially for expert tree skiers.

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