Spruce Peak at Stowe, Stowe Mountain Resort’s new base-area development, has earned two distinct honors from Audubon International, a non-profit environmental organization headquartered in New York State: Spruce Peak at Stowe is the first mountain resort development in the United States to earn Audubon’s ‘Green Community Award’ and the first in Vermont to have its golf course designated as an Audubon ‘Signature Sanctuary.’
Members of Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program are eligible for the Green Community award, which recognizes environmental achievement and is a milestone en route to earning rigorous designation as a Certified Audubon Sustainable Community. Spruce Peak first joined the Sustainable Communities Program in early 2006, and is the first mountain resort in the nation to earn the award.
“The Spruce Peak at Stowe project is the result of many years of collaborative planning and coordination with many varied interests, including all of Vermont’s major environmental organizations,” said Robert Apple, the resort’s Planning Manager. “Now, as the vision turns into reality we are proud to earn this award from Audubon International and look forward to a continued focus on sustainable development principles throughout the resort.”
Spruce Peak’s environmental accomplishments include:
Through a pair of conservation easements donated to the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, over 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat has been permanently protected. Those protected lands include 10 acres of summit ski terrain on Spruce Peak that have been restored to their natural state, providing crucial habitat for the Bicknell’s Thrush, and dense forests adjacent to the base village that provide nesting sites for Peregrine falcons, and habitat for moose and black bear.
With input from Efficiency Vermont, the state’s private energy utility, Spruce Peak’s mountain cabins have been built to the maximum 5-star rating of the EPA’s Home Energy Rating System. Each cabin is expected to save $3,500 per year through extensive energy efficiencies. All future buildings are being designed to exceed Vermont’s stringent commercial construction energy guidelines.
Stormwater runoff from the Spruce Peak project area is collected in the new 110 million gallon snowmaking lake, protecting the nearby West Branch stream from potentially negative water quality impacts.
Spruce Peak is committed to addressing transportation impacts in the Stowe Valley. For example, Spruce Peak and Stowe Mountain Resort financially support the Stowe Municipal Trolley system, which alleviates traffic congestion and reduces vehicle emissions along the Mountain Road. The compact pedestrian-friendly base area encourages walkability and the construction of a new transfer gondola between the Spruce Peak and the Mount Mansfield base area has eliminated the need for a fleet of diesel buses to shuttle skiers between the two locations.
Spruce Peak has integrated environmental consideration into corporate operations. An incentive program encourages and rewards employees for undertaking environmental projects for the company. All standard office paper is 100% recycled-content. Finally, employees participate in a ride-sharing program during winter, and are encouraged to cycle to work during summer months.
Stowe Mountain Club, Spruce Peak at Stowe’s new golf course, has earned the prestigious Audubon Signature Sanctuary Certification. Members of Audubon International’s Signature Programs are eligible for certification which recognizes that the project has been successfully designed, constructed, and managed with a comprehensive approach to environmental protection. Stowe Mountain Club becomes the first golf course in Vermont and one of only 63 golf courses in the world to become an Audubon Signature Sanctuary.
“Stowe Mountain Club is the result of careful planning, years of development, and coordination with all of Vermont’s major environmental organizations,” said Walter Frame, Operations Manager for Spruce Peak at Stowe. “With the course open, we’re proud to offer a truly unique and natural experience for our club members, and look forward to participating in continued sustainable development programs with Audubon International,” Frame said.
Stowe Mountain Club’s environmental accomplishments include:
Establishment of a 750+ acre wildlife conservation easement surrounding the golf course.
Phased construction was established in order to limit areas of disturbance. Tree clearing was conducted during two winter seasons to minimize the potential for soil erosion and riparian protection areas were established.
A native wildflower seed mix was used in many out of play areas to provide a food source for native animal species and to decrease the potential for the introduction of invasive plant species.
A 200 foot section of Big Spruce Brook along the 3rd hole was restored to its natural condition and the culvert replaced with a bridge improving fish passage and normal stream flows.
Turfgrass for greens, tees, fairways and rough was selected for their high levels of pest resistence and ability to thrive at high elevations in order to promote dense growth.
An inovative Integrated Pest Management Plan is in place that incorporates cultural, biological, and extremely limited chemical strategies to manage the turf grass of the golf course.
Golf course irrigation is provided by recycled stormwater, that has been collected in the main Stowe Mountain Resort snowmaking reservoir – Peregrine Lake.
Stringent construction storm water management and use of recycled storm water for snowmaking in winter.
Two new wetlands were created near the new snowmaking reservoir to help filter drainage from the golf course before entering the reservoir.
The Natural Intergrated Pest Management Plan limits the use of pesticides or herbicides.
Two years of grow-in took place to ensure healthy turf that would be more resistent to disease.
Regular water quality monitoring was established to insure the integrity of streams and wetlands.
Hand picking of weeds and the use of native plants; part of the Intergrated Pest Management Plan.
A Natural Resource Management Center (Maintenance facility) was built to ensure the highest standard of worker safety and health. This includes but is not limited to; the latest technologies for equipment wash down and wash water treatment.
On-course solar powered comfort stations with composting toilets.
About Audubon International:
Audubon International is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 environmental education organization dedicated to educating, assisting and inspiring millions of people from all walks of life to protect and sustain the land, water, wildlife and natural resources around them. Web site – www.auduboninternational.org