PERCEPTIONS OF SUSTAINABILITY: THE OREGON SKI INDUSTRY
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Skiing has been part of Oregon’s history since the early 1930’s, inspiring many generations of Oregon Skiers and Riders and supporting the economy of many of Oregon’s rural communities. National-level Special Use Permit legislation has recently allowed ski areas to lease their land and operate year-round – a shift that has many environmentalists concerned with the increased impact ski area activities have on their surrounding environment. The National Ski Area Association has encouraged ski areas to become more environmentally-conscious and sustainable for over a decade through its Sustainable Slopes program, however its reach and the level of awareness skiers and riders have of the program has been less than comprehensive. Based on a survey conducted of Oregon skiers and riders during the 2011-12 ski season, this study examines the perceptions Oregon skiers and riders have regarding the role of ski areas to provide environmental stewardship, complement recreational activities within the National Forest, manage public land, and drive the Oregon economy. Though further research will be needed, this study seeks to begin the conversation regarding sustainable ski area operations on public land and help ski areas in Oregon better-understand how they are perceived by their guests.