Unspoiled Since 1939
Monarch Mountain takes responsibility for the environment very seriously; we depend on nature for our business. Everything at the area is done in a sustainable manner to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future. Which is why we refer to Monarch as "unspoiled since 1939".
All Natural Snow
Monarch Mountain's location on the Continental Divide insures outstanding natural snowfall; 350 inches of snow annually allows for skiing from late November through mid-April. Natural snow (no snowmaking) saves electricity and alleviates the need to pump and store water.
We rely solely on Mother Nature. There are only two other ski areas left in Colorado that does not use snow making equipment to produce snow, Silverton and Ski Cooper (both of which see far fewer skier visits).
Implementation of snowmaking systems cost in the millions alone.
Water conservation in this regard is in the hundreds of thousands of gallons a year compared to other areas.
The electric usage to operate these systems is also substantial. So in this regard, the single most environmentally friendly practice Monarch Mountain employ's is what we in essence don't do; waste water and electricity to make something natural artificially. We are proud of this ability to operate our business solely on all natural snow. Snow making will be included in the Draft Master Development Plan.
Energy Savings Programs
Monarch Mountain has invested in upgrading its antiquated lighting systems so that at all levels the lighting is capable of utilizing energy efficient bulbs. This has decreased the Mountains energy output at the Base Area by 30 percent.
Monarch has implemented four day work weeks during the off season so to eliminate energy usage one day a week as well as diminish the fuel used by employees driving to work.
For six months during the year the entire lift operations and the majority of the Base Area buildings are shut down and all resources are consolidated into small administrative areas. Gas driven auxiliary engines are used during the summer long process of chair lift repair and maintenance. This consumes less net energy because of the size and start up demands of the electric motors for the lifts.
With the collective improvements in energy consumption, Monarch has reduced energy use and costs.
Recycling at Monarch
We attempt to Reduce, Re-use, or Recycle every aspect of our business. Although in every instance the cost of implementing these processes is higher, we consider this to be our dutiful investment in sustainability. We collect and recycle over two tons of cardboard a season.
With the use of digital and wireless technologies we are in the process of turning all of our administrative processes into paperless reporting; including: all employee and departmental manuals, invoicing, revenue and expense reporting, and all other administrative communications.
All paper products used in Food and Beverage are made of recycled and/or biodegradable materials including: forks, knives, spoons, plates, and cups.
Trash bags are made of recycled material and are biodegradable.
All hand towels in the restroom facilities are made of recycled materials.
We provide Hydration Water Stations so to reduce the usage of purchased bottle water. Our bottled water sales have reduced by 40 percent as a result. The positive result is several thousand less plastic bottles in our landfills with no capability of biodegrading.
Oils used in cooking and frying are reused by local businesses to make products such as alternative fuel and soaps.
Recycling stations for public use are present throughout the Base Area and offices for paper, aluminum and glass.
Instead of filling the landfills with our old equipment from the Rental Operations, we are finding ways to disburse these skis to other rental operations across the country with lesser resources.
All oils, anti freeze and parts cleaner fluids used in vehicle operations are recycled including: Snow cats, Snow mobiles, heavy machinery, and all company vehicles.
All scrap metals are recycled through appropriate sites. All batteries are returned to a recycle center. Monarch recycles everything from office materials to food and beverage utensils. All office paper, cardboard, toner cartridges and computers are recycled or donated when appropriate. Throughout the area recycling containers can be found so guests can dispose of their glass, plastic and aluminum in a responsible manner. Monarch employees sort recyclables in the Monarch Recycling Center and transport to Chaffee County for recycling. All used oil and grease are stored at the area and picked up by reprocessing companies to reuse in other applications.
Monarch operates two busses to shuttle employees to and from the mountain. The busses bring employees from Poncha Springs and Salida about 40 miles round trip. Forty to eighty people ride these shuttles daily, allowing them to leave their cars at home.
On Fridays and Saturdays Monarch subsidizes a shuttle from Salida for guests through the Salida Parks and Recreation Dept.
A substantial investment has been made in the upgrading of our Slope Grooming Snowcats enabling Monarch to use fewer numbers of snowcats to groom the same amount of terrain. Each of the newer snowcats uses less fuel per hour than their predecessors. In addition, route selection management has reduced the amount of time used by these machines. The cumulative result has been a significant decrease in fuel consumption.
Waste Water and Water Quality Control
Monarch Mountain operates its own Waste Water Treatment Plant and Sediment Basin. All discharges performed downstream meet the highest standards set by the State Regulatory Commissions. The Monarch Waste Treatment Plant processes all waste water and the sludge that is removed is actually turned into fertilizer. As the snow melts it brings small particles of soil down the mountain. This silt is collected in the sediment basin before the runoff is allowed downstream. The material that accumulates in the basin is removed and re-used. Monarch has incorporated low volume flush valves in the restroom facilities.
In accordance with State regulations all water is tested daily and reported to the State to assure that the water quality meets or exceeds State standards. Monarch shuts down the waste water plant in the off-season conserving electrical use. This practice began in 2010.
Converting Fryer Oil into Biodiesel
Monarch Mountain’s Food and Beverage Department collaborates with ClearEcos, a company that converts fryer oil into biodiesel. According to ClearEcos’ recent documentation, Monarch Mountain has reduced 355.2 pounds of pollutants! Monarch’s Food and Beverage Department combined with other Colorado restaurants have saved over 12 million pounds of pollution.