Diamond Peak Ski Resort achieves STOKE certification for sustainability | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Diamond Peak Ski Resort achieves STOKE certification for sustainability

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Personnel at Diamond Peak Ski Resort are certifiably stoked to be the first mountain around Lake Tahoe to receive recognition for its sustainability initiatives and become STOKE certified.

The community-owned ski resort was an early adopter of the STOKE (Sustainable Tourism Operator's Kit for Evaluation) snow certification program during the 2015-16 season and has been following its "Roadmap Report" to achieve the best practices in snowmaking, interpretation, waste diversion and community development.

"We are very excited to announce that we are the first ski resort in the Lake Tahoe region, and the second in the nation, to achieve STOKE Certification," said Paul Raymore, Diamond Peak marketing manager. "This certification is something we've worked very hard to achieve over the past three seasons, and it reflects our commitment to sustainability and transparency in our operations."

Diamond Peak was evaluated against the 100 criteria in the STOKE Snow standard by an independent evaluator and achieved an overall compliance score of 78 percent across all four categories of sustainability performance, making it the second STOKE Certified ski resort behind Oregon's Mt. Ashland Ski Area.

Some of the sustainability measures Diamond Peak displayed this past season included an interpretive guided tour for skiers and riders on the historic Incline Flume Trail that intersects the ski area's boundaries and ski runs. Participants learned about the mountain's cultural heritage, ecosystem functions of the Tahoe Basin, and the ski resort's sustainability initiatives.

Part of the resort's new interpretation program is a series of witty signs on trash cans, lift towers, and chair-backs designed to inspire skiers and riders to partake in everyday initiatives that Keep Tahoe Blue.

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Diamond Peak General Manager Mike Bandelin, who worked his way up from a parking lot attendant at the resort back in 1984, was stoked for the recognition.

"I've been fortunate to call this mountain home for my entire career," Bandelin said. "A lot has changed over the years, but Diamond Peak still has that friendly, local feel and remains dedicated to the community and our environment. STOKE provided us a roadmap to make short and long-term strategic changes for achieving a more sustainable future. I'm extremely proud of everyone here for making this achievement possible."

STOKE Certified is the world's first sustainability certification body with standards built specifically for surf and ski tourism operators. The organization was founded in 2013 with a mission to assist resorts in developing systematic approaches to sustainability, environmental responsibility, customer loyalty, and staff retention.

"My love for snowboarding, and passion for protecting mountain playgrounds was born from my first turns above Lake Tahoe at Diamond Peak," said STOKE Certified co-founder Carl Kish. "Ultimately, it's what inspired me to create STOKE. This has come full circle for me and words cannot describe how grateful I am to Diamond Peak for believing in STOKE from day one and representing the program with integrity."

Diamond Peak partnered with the creative artists behind the Take Care Tahoe campaign, a group of organizations working together to help inspire a sense of community and environmental responsibility in the Tahoe region.

In the spirit of educating the next generation of mountain stewards, the ski resort commissioned Reno-based illustrator Kate O'Hara to create a children's coloring book featuring flora and fauna native to the resort for the Children's Ski Center.

In the revived Sierra Scouts lesson program, instructors teach school group ski classes about topics that correspond to locations on the mountain with interpretive signs about the environment. Upon completion of the program, students are awarded the Sierra Snow Ranger badge.

"It's been an honor to step into this role at IVGID to support the ski resort as well as the community in creating and achieving its conservation and community development goals," said Joseph Hill, sustainability coordinator for Diamond Peak and the Incline Village General Improvement District (IVGID), who created the ski resort's interpretation plan, guides the mountain tours and leads many of IVGID's "Waste Not" initiatives.

"The STOKE process has proven invaluable to the success of sustainability on the mountain and in Incline Village and we look forward to working closely with STOKE to keep improving by sourcing 100 percent renewable energy and progressing towards zero waste."

The resort has been striving to reduce the sale and use of single-use plastic water bottles. It's done this by installing more hydration stations and selling custom reusable water pouches, which led to a 34 percent reduction in water bottle sales this past season — 2,409 fewer bottles compared to the 2016-17 season, according to the resort.

Diamond Peak has invested millions into watershed restoration efforts and the addition of 28 high-efficiency snow guns and towers over the last three years, according to the resort. The use of PistenBully's SnowSat snow depth monitoring technology maximizes the efficient use of natural snow and man-made snow to reduce the need for snowmaking in patchy areas.