CBMR and EpicPromise make positive impact on the community

Focus on sustainability

By Kendra Walker

Crested Butte Mountain Resort has shared some of its most recent steps to achieve goals surrounding sustainability, inclusive access, community support and employee grant programs. These goals, part of Vail Resorts’ EpicPromise program, aim to strengthen and sustain the local community as well as all the communities under the Vail Resorts umbrella. 

CBMR’s impact on the local front over the last year has helped contribute to Vail Resorts’ overall EpicPromise milestones, as recently highlighted in its annual Environmental and Social Responsibility Report for the fiscal year 2023. 

EpicPromise consists of four pillars: Commitment to Zero, Epic for Everyone, EpicPromise Employee Foundation and Community Impact. Here’s a snapshot of how Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Vail Resorts are working in each of these realms.

Commitment to Zero

Vail Resorts’ Commitment to Zero is the goal to achieve a zero net operating footprint by 2030 through zero net emissions, zero waste to landfill and zero net operating impact on forests and habitat.

According to the report, Vail Resorts achieved 100% renewable electricity across the company’s 37 North American resorts for the second consecutive year, and 96% of its worldwide electricity usage. 

“We also reached our 15% energy efficiency goal ahead of our 2030 target,” said CBMR environmental agent Hannah November.

The report also highlights that since 2018, Vail Resorts has made $10 million in on-mountain energy-saving investments That includes putting $245,000 in retrofitting CBMR facilities with more energy-efficient LED lighting and upgrading refrigeration systems with higher-efficiency motors and fan blades. This season, CBMR also invested in all-new snowmaking air compressors that are more energy efficient and the resort’s snowmaking technology includes 180 snow towers that can operate without using compressed air when the temperature is low enough. 

Vail Resorts has also committed to restoring an acre of forest for every acre permanently impacted by new and expanded operations. CBMR communications manager Julie Block shared that last year, CBMR contributed $96,000 toward forest restoration and preservation, as well as trail access projects, through donations to the Crested Butte Land Trust. These donations to support the environment are possible through Vail Resorts’ guest donation program in which guests can make one-dollar donations from the purchase of Vail Resorts products, including the Epic Pass.

Across all resorts, Vail Resorts reduced landfill waste by 6.1 million pounds, in a goal to reduce waste to the landfill by 5% compared to fiscal year 2022. November shared that CBMR was among the top five Vail-owned resorts that reduced the most waste last season. 

CBMR’s efforts included diverting 192,000 pounds of waste from landfills through recycling and composting programs in fiscal year 2023, a 36% reduction from the previous year. 

CBMR partners with 3XM Grinding & Compost in Olathe for its composting efforts. The dining establishments compost food waste, single-use Eco-Products, shredded paper, and in the summer the resort composts green scraps, lawn cuttings and leaves from the grounds crew. 

“I am so proud of our composting program,” said November. “From August 2022 to July 2023, we produced 35 tons of compost, and we have produced an additional 20 tons of compost since this past August. In December 2023, we had our largest compost-producing month on record – 10.51 tons! In total, we have produced 91 tons of food scraps and compostable packaging since we began the program.”

November said that last season the resort introduced new waste sorting stations and moved to almost 100% use of durables, such as plates, cups and silverware. It also added recycling programs for glass, plastic bottles, paper, used fryer oil, cardboard, scrap metal, rubber, E-waste, soft plastic, latex gloves, wooden pallets and snack wrappers. “We sent over 400 pounds of snack wrappers to Terracycle last season to be recycled into tables and chairs,” said November. 

Additionally, CBMR donated approximately 1,200 pounds of food to the Gunnison County Food Pantry at the end of last season.

Epic for Everyone 

According to Block, there is also an effort to make skiing more accessible for everyone. “We are focused on two key areas: adaptive access for those with physical and mental barriers, and youth access.” 

Last year Vail Resorts partnered with 53 nonprofits that provide equitable access by offering adaptive programming across 30 resorts, including Crested Butte’s Adaptive Sports Center. Through its partnership with Adaptive Sports Center and Gunnison Hinsdale Youth Services, CBMR helped nearly 500 kids ski and ride during the 2022/23 winter season.

Additionally, CBMR made more than $377,000 worth of in-kind donations to Adaptive to help break down accessibility barriers to the ski and ride experience. “Through this partnership, we helped to support mountain access for more than 550 adults, including nearly 150 veterans,” said Block. “Adaptive is an incredible organization, and we are proud to partner with them and help their clients experience the mountain.” 

Vail Resorts also has an Adaptive Epic Pass, allowing access to CBMR and other Vail Resorts at a discounted rate for pass holders with permanent disabilities. 

EpicPromise Employee Foundation 

The EpicPromise Employee Foundation supports Vail Resorts employees and their dependents through emergency financial assistance and educational grants. Employees may apply to receive up to $5,000 for emergencies or unexpected expenses through the EpicPromise Employee Foundation’s hardship relief grants. 

Block shared that last year, the EpicPromise Employee Foundation grant program helped six CBMR employees through unplanned hardships, aided three CBMR team members with tuition assistance scholarships, and supported the educational pursuits of three employees’ dependents.  

Since 2019, the EpicPromise Employee Foundation has supported 20 CBMR employees with grants totaling more than $76,000. It has also granted 13 educational ascent scholarships totaling over $26,000 in tuition savings to CBMR employees and granted the EpicPromise Scholars scholarship to four dependents of CBMR employees pursuing undergraduate degrees.

Community Impact 

Between August 2022 and July 2023, Vail Resorts provided more than $594,000 of cash and in-kind grants to organizations across the Gunnison Valley through the EpicPromise Foundation.

The local nonprofits that received EpicPromise grants last year include Adaptive Sports Center, the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley, Crested Butte Avalanche Center, Crested Butte Land Trust, Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation, Crested Butte State of Mind, Gunnison County Food Pantry, Gunnison Hinsdale Youth Services, KBUT Radio, Living Journeys, Mountain Roots Food Project and Sustainable Crested Butte.

In addition, the Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust contributed $2.66 million in direct grants to support mental and behavioral health programs in 12 mountain communities, including Crested Butte. The contribution includes $70,000 to CB State of Mind to provide therapy and substance abuse treatment scholarships for Black and Indigenous People of Color communities. They also donated $60,000 to the Gunnison Valley Health Foundation to hire a Spanish-speaking Certified Peer Support Specialist for Gunnison Middle and High Schools and expand the Spanish-speaking peer health navigator role to support connection to mental behavioral health services. 

Guests visiting CBMR can also contribute to local Gunnison Valley nonprofits. Every year, the resort hosts an annual Donation Day to benefit a local organization and individual donations are met by a $2,500 guaranteed match from CBMR. Last winter, CBMR partnered with Mountain Roots Food Project, which helps address food insecurities in the Gunnison Valley through food assistance and education programs. Block said to check CBMR’s website and social media channels for updates regarding this year’s Donation Day.

“Crested Butte Mountain Resort is committed to preserving our beautiful natural landscape, and we are equally dedicated to supporting our employees and our community,” said CBMR vice president and general manager Tara Schoedinger. “I have so much gratitude for the important work nonprofits are doing throughout the Gunnison Valley, and I am proud that we are able to support their work through our EpicPromise Foundation.”

Check Also

Local health coalition starts pilot wellness program

Looking to enroll 150 community members from construction, service and nonprofit industries By Katherine Nettles …