Tag Archives | Jay Peak

Want to save the snow? Plant some trees.

Say trees to a skier, and most likely they’ll picture this:


But trees are good for more than just a skier’s playground. They can be an important tool in the fight against global warming. Trees remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the air and emit oxygen into the atmosphere. Less global warming means colder temperatures, which can mean more snow, which means more skiing for me in, say, trees.

So it all goes full circle. I like that.

Recently, I learned that Jay Peak Resort in Vermont is working with a program called the Clear Water Carbon Fund to fund tree planting throughout the region. I spoke with Laury Saligman, co-founder of Conservation Collaboratives, to find out more. An avid cross country skier whose love of  the outdoors mirrors her passion for the environment, Laury  has an MS from the Harvard School of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences and is a Toyota Audubon TogetherGreen Fellow. Her organization, which she founded in 2006 with her husband, John McGill, is a partner in the tree planting effort.

Q: I understand that the program is based on the use of carbon offsets. Can you tell me what these are and how they work?
A: Sure. All of us produce carbon emissions in our day-to-day activities, whether we’re driving to work or driving to a ski area. These emissions go into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Carbon offsets counteract those emissions by linking the person or the business responsible for the emissions to an entity that can absorb them, most often renewable resources. So it’s a way to support these resources by “offsetting” the emissions that have already been produced.

Q: So what’s the Clear Water Carbon Fund? And how is it involved with Jay Peak?
A: The Clear Water Carbon Fund is a carbon reduction program that funds the planting of trees on behalf of individuals and businesses who are interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Jay is offering carbon offsets through its website and online booking. So if you’re coming to Vermont to ski, but you’re attracted to the region – the fresh air, the beautiful views – you can counteract the CO2 you produce traveling here by going to the Jay website and contributing to the Fund. Also, when you book a trip online, you will be invited to participate in the program.The money goes toward  planting and maintaining  trees, periodic monitoring to verify the amount of carbon they store, and paying monetary incentives to landowners  for the loss of  revenue-generating activities such as the use of these areas for hay.

Q: Are the trees planted locally?
A: Yes. Even though CO2 is a global pollutant, the trees will have the same effect on global warming no matter where they’re planted. In Vermont, we’re working with the White River Partnership to replant in areas that were denuded by Tropical Storm Irene or that’ve been assessed as important to watershed health. And we’re working with NorthWoods Stewardship Center to plant trees in the Clyde River watershed,  a tributary of Lake Memphremagog in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. In Maine, we’re planting trees along the Crooked River in the Sebago Lake watershed and along the Androscoggin River near Bethel.

Q: All these are along the water’s edge. Why? 
A:  We try to do all our plantings  within 150 feet of a creek or river. With good reason. Trees help prevent soil erosion, filter sediment and harmful pollutants to keep  water clean, and provide shade for aquatic species and resting areas for migratory birds. We try to plant native species — cottonwood, red maple, and a variety of bushes and shrubs. The more we can mimic the natural environment, the better.

Q: So how may trees have you planted so far?
A: Probably around 2,000. Jay Peak is the first ski resort in the area to offer this to their guests, but we’re hoping to expand it  throughout the state. This way  skiers can both take responsibility for their carbon dioxide emissions and protect our local environmental and water resources. I just wish every ski area would offer this to their guests, and that everyone who came to Vermont would pay a few dollars to support the natural infrastructure that makes this state so special.


Laury Saligman and family.

Laury Saligman and family.


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Diva Safari Day #6: Burke Mountain Resort

Our last stop in Vermont was truly a great one.

Today we skied at Burke, perhaps the Vermontiest resort of the trip. Located in the Northeast Kingdom (that’s the name for the northeastern corner of the state), Burke is known for its narrow, winding trails that follow the contours of the mountain. It’s uncrowded — even on a Sunday — and the views are spectacular. The place has an unhurried, mellow vibe, without any of the  big resort feel of a place like Killington or Stratton. This is New England skiing at its finest.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens here.  Burke was recently purchased by Jay Peak (we skied there yesterday), which  plans to invest $108 million  in the mountain through 2015. More than $1 million has already gone for snowmaking upgrades, with more changes to come. The new owners plan to build four mountain lodge facilities: two just below the mid-Burke detachable quad, a third at the site of the current mid-Burke Lodge, and the last at the base area near the Tamarack Grill. Jay and Burke recently began offering a joint season pass.

But one of the changes I like the best is the installation of a wind turbine at the summit of the mountain. This produces an average output of just under 700 kWh per day, saving the equivalent of more than 120 tons of CO2 annually. Put in perspective, this would cover the energy needs of 20 to 30 average family homes. Way cool.

On to the skiing.

Here are some stats:

Vertical: 2,011′

55 named trails

270+ skiable acres

110+ acres of maintained glades

80% snowmaking

One of the nice things about Burke is how it’s essentially divided into two areas: the lower mountain, with almost exclusively beginner trails, and the upper, with more advanced terrain.  We started at the base lodge and took the lift to the top of the lower mountain, giving us a great view of the terrain there.  I have to say we were very impressed. This looks like a great place for anyone to learn to ski. It’s mellow, but with trails that are long and varied enough to capture anyone’s interest. Then we took the express quad up to the summit. Even though the glades were closed (the mountain — all of New England, really — could use more snow), we had a blast. These are trails with plenty of character. So much fun.

Some pix from the day.

One of the winding trails on the upper mountain:


View from the top:


And, of course, we ended our day in the base lodge’s Tamarack Grill.  Look what’s suspended from the ceiling:

Here are two of us stylin’ in our Helmet Band-Its, just the thing for a Diva who wants to add a little something more to her helmet. Rawhr!


If you want true Vermont skiing, Burke is the place for you. I’ll definitely be back.




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Diva Safari Day #5: Jay Peak

Five days ago, we began this Ski Safari at the most southerly ski resort in Vermont: Mount Snow.

Today I’m posting from the most northerly: Jay Peak.

Jay is indeed a wonder to behold. Just five miles south of the US-Canada border, the mountain towers above the surrounding terrain It’s pretty impressive.

Jay’s been in the news a lot. It recently acquired Burke Mountain, which isn’t too far from here (we’ll be skiing there tomorrow). And not long ago they added a water park and hotel to help establish themselves as a four-season resort.

Yes, yes, you say. But what about the skiing?

Patience, grasshopper, patience.

First, here are some stats:

Vertical feet: 2,153

Elevation:  3,968 feet

Terrain: 385 acres (100+ gladed)

Natural Snow: 377 inches

Trails: 20% novice, 40% intermediate, 40% advanced

Something unique: Vermont’s only aerial tram. Transports up to 60 people from the base to the summit in 7 minutes. Here’s the tram house at the summit:

And here’s another view, looking up from the top of the Jet Chair:

The views from when you get off the tram are jaw-droppingly beautiful, too:

Here’s a trail leading down from the summit:


The weather today is still bone-chilling cold, but it’s a little bit less bone chilling than it’s been (will this cold snap ever end?). Temps were zero at the summit this morning  a lot better than -8. It’s amazing how you cherish every single degree, when the numbers are that small. And the mountain is in need of snow. Conditions were kind of icy, though less so in the glades (and there are a lot of them).

All in all, a good day. But all this driving is taking its toll on my poor little Subaru, which is definitely in need of a bath:


Tonight we’re in a hotel, washing our fleece and looking forward to watching a Sy-Fy Original Movie, Abominable Snowman, which features skiers in hot pursuit of the aforementioned creature. After all, what else should a good Ski Diva do?




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