Ski Area Certification
“No one will protect what they don’t care about. And no one will care about what they have never experienced.” –David Attenborough
Chances are the first whitebark pine you experienced was at a ski area in western North America. Maybe you didn’t notice that gnarly old weathered tree was a whitebark pine? Or that those silver-gray tree “skeletons” on the horizon were dead whitebark pine? The normal person may not have noticed, but maybe you did and that is why you are exploring this page!
One of the many things the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation (WPEF) is doing is educating people on the importance of whitebark pine to the high elevation ecosystems, and the threats to whitebark pine existence. What better place to do this than where many people experience whitebark pine – on a ski hill. The WPEF has created a certification program to encourage ski areas to conserve and restore whitebark pine. The Whitebark Pine Friendly Ski Area (WPFSA) certification program was launched in 2016.
The intent of this certification program is to:
- Recognize ski areas that are leaders in whitebark pine conservation and management by heralding their efforts to the people who live and play in the mountains of western North America.
- Increase awareness among ski areas and their patrons of issues surrounding the decline and conservation of whitebark pine.
- Guide ski areas in their efforts to conserve and restore whitebark pine.
- Provide an opportunity for ski areas and their patrons to be involved in the charge to save whitebark pine by becoming directly involved in education, conservation and restoration efforts or through monetary donations.
- And, ultimately, preserve and manage for whitebark pine so that high elevation recreationists can enjoy the many benefits of whitebark pine.
The education component has two main focus areas: educate the public, and educate ski area employees and managers. Public education would involve programs such as incorporating whitebark pine education as part of existing summer nature walks or snowshoe outings, identifying some whitebark pine within the ski area with signs, and displaying a whitebark pine education poster in a prominent area. Education and awareness for ski area employees would aid in their understanding of whitebark pine habitat so they can share that with the public, and education and awareness for ski area managers would assure that decisions on ski area expansion or ski trail maintenance would be made with full consideration of whitebark pine.
Assistance provided by the WPEF to ski areas seeking certification includes:
- Serve as a resource for ski areas to clarify and provide advice about checklist points, and provide any information on ecology, conservation, and management
- Provide regional contacts (i.e., government agency experts, WPEF board members) that are capable of assisting resorts with their efforts to meet WPFSA certification requirements
- Provide a general informational poster about the WPFSA Certification Program and a certification plaque
- Maintain a WPFSA web page on WPEF’s website which will explain the program and house links to participating ski area’s website
Do you have a favorite ski area with whitebark pine? If they are not aware of this program, please have them email Mike Giesey (Chair of the Ski Area Partnership Committee).
Please explore the links below for more information on this certification program: