Golden Eagle logo

Established in 1993, the Golden Eagle Awards are the highest honors bestowed on a ski area for environmental performance. The awards have been updated over the years to reflect changes in sustainability best practices and highlight the importance of climate change action and advocacy. Award finalists will be recognized and the winners announced at NSAA's 2024 National Convention & Tradeshow on May 23.

Category Descriptions

Golden Eagle for Environmental Excellence
Awarded to an industry leader in sustainability with broad programming and a holistic approach leading to overall environmental achievement across their operations.

Climate Change Impact
Powerful initiatives that result in impactful climate change solutions, whether through action, adaptation, advocacy or mitigation.

Innovation in Sustainability
Sustainability is a constantly evolving landscape, and innovation encourages us to go beyond a business as usual approach that can help pave the way for action. This year, we wanted to recognize outstanding sustainability innovators who applied in other award categories.

Community & Partnerships
This award recognizes ski areas that foster a collaborative environment in their community, taking advantage of local partnerships to drive results and inspire others into action against climate change.

Hero of Sustainability
A ski area employee who goes the extra mile to influence company policy and inspire fellow employees or guests toward environmental action.

2024 Golden Eagle Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2024 Golden Eagle Award winners and finalists. Winners are highlighted in bold.

Overall Environmental Excellence

  • Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, CO
  • Arapahoe Basin's accomplishments this past season are a testament to the ski area’s strategic and comprehensive sustainability efforts, highlighted by reaching 100% renewable electricity and carbon neutrality. These milestones reflect the ski area's commitment to its 2017 sustainability plan, targeting seven goals by 2025. The successful transition to 100% renewable energy was achieved through partnerships and on-site initiatives; carbon neutrality was accomplished by preemptively offsetting emissions through verifiable, U.S.-based projects while the ski area continues to reduce their emissions in a variety of ways. A-Basin also raises their voice to advocate for the climate on the local, statewide and national scale through presentations, D.C. visits and op-eds. For its holistic and proactive approach to environmental stewardship, NSAA gave Arapahoe Basin the Golden Eagle for Overall Environmental Excellence.    

  • Copper Mountain Resort, CO
  • Copper has shown continued commitment to sustainability and a dedicated approach to scaling impact beyond resort boundaries. Copper’s CIRQU recycling program is designed to address the many ways solid waste and traditional recycling contribute to climate change. Developed in partnership with PepsiCo and Replenysh, this pilot project emphasizes the circularity of recycling aluminum beverage containers and plastic #1 bottles. By ensuring these materials are recycled back into their original forms and utilizing existing delivery routes for recycling, the program not only diverts waste from landfills and curtails the need for new materials, but also reduces emissions from transportation. Since November 2022, Copper has collected over 12,000 pounds of material, which translates to about 3,500 cubic feet of space saved in the landfill, 3,000 gallons of oil and 56,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity saved. For demonstrating the impact different industries can have when working together to address climate change, NSAA named Copper a finalist for Overall Environmental Excellence.   

  • Vail Resorts, CO
  • Vail Resorts continues progress toward Commitment to Zero, their goal to reach a zero net operating footprint by 2030, and judges were especially impressed with what’s been achieved against their zero waste to landfill goal and the launch of a new Supply Chain Sustainability program. So far, Vail Resorts has reduced waste to landfill by nearly 6.1 million pounds, a 36% reduction from their baseline. In fiscal 2023, they diverted 11.7 million pounds of waste through recycling and composting. The company has taken a holistic approach to reducing waste, embedding waste diversion into operations and culture. Collaboration has been key, both with community partners and within their supply chain where they utilize green purchasing policies. For its comprehensive waste reduction program and partnership with employees, guests, communities and vendors, NSAA named Vail Resorts a finalist for Overall Environmental Excellence.

Climate Change Impact

  • Boyne Resorts, MI
  • As part of their ForeverProject, a commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, Boyne Resorts is undergoing an innovative transition of vehicles and equipment to renewable diesel (also known hydrotreated vegetable oil or HVO). Renewable diesel is made from materials like agricultural byproducts, vegetable oils and used cooking oils, and can be a drop-in replacement for petroleum-based diesel fuel with less carbon emissions, less particulate matter, and lower nitrous and sulfur oxides when combusted. The transition from petroleum diesel to HVO has an estimated 60% reduction in carbon emissions, associated health benefits for vehicle maintenance team members working in confined shops, and can significantly reduce the climate impact of machinery for which no electric alternatives are currently available. Across Boyne Resorts properties, they have used over 48,555 gallons of renewable diesel in lieu of petroleum diesel, saving over 297 MT CO2e to date. For this innovative initiative and commitment to collaboration, Boyne Resorts was named winner for Climate Change Impact and recognized as a finalist for Innovation in Sustainability.

  • Steamboat, CO
  • Steamboat received LEED (the most widely used green building rating system in the world) Silver certification for the redevelopment of their base as part of their Full Steam Ahead project. Development can pose challenges to meeting ambitious climate goals, like Alterra Mountain Company’s 2030 targets to reduce carbon emissions in owned operations by more than 50%, use 100% renewable energy and be carbon neutral across operations. So, Steamboat’s objective was to build as sustainable and low carbon as possible while meeting the needs of the development. After going through the process, Steamboat’s learnings were used to help Alterra create standards for low carbon and sustainable development. The ski area deployed a variety of strategies during the project, including waste diversion (achieving 70% of all demolition waste), heat repurposing, building automation and energy efficiency. For setting a sustainable standard in development, NSAA named Steamboat a finalist for Climate Change Impact. 

  • Jay Peak Resort, VT 
  • See description in "Innovation in Sustainability"

Innovation in Sustainability

  • Jay Peak Resort, VT
  • Jay Peak has taken an innovative and collaborative approach to complete two of the largest carbon-reducing projects in Vermont’s history: waste heat utilization and an electric boiler that uses grid connected software to monitor electricity pricing in real time. These transformative projects have significantly lowered Jay Peak’s CO2 emissions, utility costs and propane consumption — the electric boiler installation decreasing propane in the Hotel Jay and Waterpark by 60%. These efforts also come with secondary savings on transportation of fuel up to 1,800 feet on a regular basis and have led to an increase in electricity consumption, helping the resort better utilize Vermont’s sustainable electric grid resources. Jay Peak collaborated with multiple partners within Vermont to complete these projects and hopes to inspire other resorts and businesses to commit to a more sustainable future using their learnings as an example. For the ripple effect these carbon-reduction projects will continue to have, NSAA named Jay Peak Resort a winner for Innovation in Sustainability and a finalist for Climate Change Impact. 

Community & Partnerships

  • Massanutten Resort, VA
  • Massanutten Resort continues to find new ways to be a strong voice for sustainability within their community through youth education opportunities and community events. Their collaborative and impactful program with local K–12 schools aims to empower future leaders to become stewards of the environment through sustainability education. So far, this education has highlighted renewable energy and energy efficiency in snowmaking. Additionally, due to their largely agricultural location, the resort started a seasonal farmers market to serve as another outlet for farmers and to provide an opportunity for local residents and guests visiting Massanutten to shop locally, which can reduce emissions associated with transportation. Massanutten also continues to raise their voice to advocate for climate policy, bringing the most representatives of any ski area to this year’s Ceres Lawmaker Education and Advocacy Days to express the importance of climate action directly to those that can make systemic change. For its dedication to collaborative sustainable efforts, NSAA honored Massanutten Resort with the win for its Community & Partnerships Award.  

  • Taos Ski Valley, NM
  • Taos Ski Valley is a founding member of Resilient Taos Community. This climate leadership group aims to have a tangible positive impact on their local environment by reducing emissions, enabling local organizations to understand their energy usage and how to reduce it, and spreading awareness through events and advocacy to the community. The group is composed of different community stakeholders, including local schools, government, businesses and nonprofits with whom Taos Ski Valley is sharing their sustainability expertise through actions like a carbon accounting workshop and carbon emissions assessment tool that they created. The group is also looking to begin implementing community wide carbon reduction projects and works together to attend local events to spread environmental awareness. Taos Ski Valley has also raised their voice to advocate for the climate in their strong support of New Mexico’s Clean Fuel Standard. For being actively involved in climate leadership within and beyond their community, NSAA honored Taos Ski Valley with the win for its Community & Partnerships Award.

  • Copper Mountain, CO
  • Copper Mountain Resort’s Ski Conservation Summit will hold its fourth annual meeting this July. This event has evolved into a platform for sharing innovative conservation projects and nature-based climate solutions, not only within the Copper community but also across the broader Colorado ski industry and beyond. Initially launched in 2021, the summit has significantly expanded its scope, attracting a variety of participants, including ski areas, Forest Service administrators, academic experts and students. To date, the Ski Conservation Summit has attracted 100 participants over the past three years and increased interest from various stakeholders. This ongoing engagement has already spurred significant initiatives, such as the introduction of native seed-collecting programs at other ski areas, reflecting the event’s role as a catalyst for tangible environmental action and stewardship within the ski community. For its significant work in providing opportunities for collaboration around climate change solutions, NSAA recognized Copper Mountain as a finalist for its Community & Partnerships Award. 

Hero of Sustainability

  • Mike Nathan | Arapahoe Basin, CO
  • For the past decade, Mike Nathan has made an undeniable impact across all departments at A-Basin, driving every sustainability project at the ski area from creating sustainable vendor vetting procedures and tracking tools to employee carpool incentives, wetland restoration and waste sorting. Nathan’s most recent triumph was leading the charge as Arapahoe Basin transitioned to 100% renewable electricity in the fall of 2023. Every year, he works hard to support and raise money for various environmental nonprofits in Summit County and sits on the board for High Country Conservation Center. Nathan has spearheaded raising funds for Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance through the Employee Environmental Fund and the annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival, which is an environmentally themed film fest to raise climate awareness and inspire activism. He is always willing to lend his expertise and guidance to others in the ski industry through involvement on NSAA’s Environmental Committee and as a founding member of the Climate Challenge. For tirelessly advocating for climate-positive policy both locally and nationally and inspiring others to join the journey toward a more sustainable future, NSAA named A-Basin’s Mike Nathan Hero of Sustainability.

  • Kate Wilson | Vail Resorts, CO
  • Kate Wilson’s impact can be seen across Vail Resorts in a multitude of ways. Guided by her efforts and deep sustainability experience, Vail Resorts is ahead of schedule to meet its emissions goals, and on track to achieve its 2030 goals for waste and forests and habitat as part of its Commitment to Zero. In her role, Wilson oversees sustainability, inclusive access, external DEI work, community support and the employee foundation. Under her leadership, Vail Resorts achieved 100% renewable electricity for the second consecutive year, reached its 15% energy efficiency savings goal ahead of the company's 2030 target, and achieved the Commitment to Zero subgoal of 50% waste diversion across the enterprise in 2020. Wilson’s work extends beyond environmental with Epic for Everyone, the company’s inclusive access programs that hosted nearly 11,300 underrepresented youth last year. She is also the chair of NSAA’s Environmental Committee and pioneered the creation of the Mountain Collaborative for Climate Action, where she consistently drives efforts to increase sustainability collaboration and impact. For her commitment to operationalizing sustainability across the company and raising a voice across the greater ski industry and beyond, NSAA named Vail Resorts’ Kate Wilson Hero of Sustainability. 

  • Hunter Wright | Eldora Mountain Resort,CO
  • With nearly a decade of dedicated service at Eldora Mountain Resort, Hunter Wright consistently demonstrates exemplary leadership and commitment to advancing sustainability initiatives at the ski area and within the industry. Always looking for innovative ways to expand impact, she utilizes both fundraising and behavioral incentives to motivate employees and customers. Wright has led initiatives in sustainable transportation, energy and waste reduction, efficiency planning and implementation, and nearly every other facet of environmental stewardship, all of which have significantly reduced Eldora's footprint. She has also been a driving force behind Eldora's efforts to promote inclusivity on the mountain. Through her leadership in outreach and partnerships with organizations like Ski Noir 5280 (with which she helped establish a ski rental library) and the BIPOC Mountain Collective, Wright has worked diligently to foster a more welcoming environment for all guests and employees. For her dedication that’s garnered consistent positive feedback from employees, peers and customers about the tangible impact Eldora has on its community, NSAA named Hunter Wright a finalist for Hero of Sustainability. 

  • Tommy Murray |Taos Ski Valley, NM
  • Tommy Murray, director of mountain maintenance, is integral to Taos Ski Valley’s sustainability efforts, single-handedly building the resort’s fleet of electric equipment, investing in all-electric snowmobiles, a hybrid groomer and the first all-electric snowcat in the U.S. Murray also supported the procurement and testing of the renewable diesel fuel that Taos Ski Valley was able to source last winter. Getting the fuel was a huge undertaking for staff, and testing a new fuel in such front-line equipment came with its risks. But Murray was immediately excited to see how it worked in the grooming fleet in hopes that a steadier supply will become available in the future. What’s more, Murray refined and increased the operating efficiency of Taos’ extensive snowmaking system. These changes, along with his enthusiasm for sustainability, have driven large reductions in energy usage and carbon emissions at the ski area. For his dedication to Taos’ net zero goals, the betterment of its local environment and his enthusiasm for a sustainable future in the winter recreation industry, NSAA named Tommy Murray a Hero of Sustainability finalist.