It just so happens that the resort named number one in the Southeast by Skiing
Magazine, also happens to have an environmental conscious. Snowshoe Mountain, in West Virginia's Canaan Valley
, is one of several businesses in the state to be certified by Green Globe 21
a program that issues requirements and accredits businesses involved in ecotourism.
The all-season resort offers a diverse array of outdoor activities, from mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking in the warmer months, to skiing and snowboarding in the winter. There is also a variety of lodging options, as well as restaurants and shops. There is so much to do at Snowshoe that it almost resembles a small town. Obviously a resort of such magnitude would have the potential to wreak havoc on the pristine environment which attracts visitors to it in the first place. Fortunately, Snowshoe has taken an active role in conserving land in the Canaan Valley.
Snowshoe is located in the forests of the Central Appalachian Mountain region, which are home to an incredibly unique variety of both northern and southern tree species. The forest provides a high-quality habitat for the rare West Virginian northern flying squirrel, and the federally endangered Cheat Mountain salamander. Last December, Snowshoe Resort announced an agreement with the Nature Conservatory that would protect and restore over 200 acres of red spruce forest on the resort‘s property. The land is protected by a conservation easement which permanently limits development on the property. This deal represents the first conservation area to be implemented in the state of West Virginia, which meets the requirements of a habitat conservation plan. The deal was incredibly vital in that it laid the ground work that will inspire other conservation organizations in the state to push for habitat conservation plans that create areas of permanent protection.
As an avid snowboarder, I can tell you that Snowshoe Mountain has some of the best trails in the region. The mountain is breathtakingly beautiful, and the Canaan Valley in general is a winter wonderland. Though I haven't gotten the chance to get down there yet this season, I couldn't help but get a giddy rush of joy when I read about the resort's self-described "EPIC HOLIDAY CONDITIONS!" on its wesbsite. Even if you don't ski or board, the resort is a beautiful place to connect with nature in the colder months. If you live anywhere near West Virginia, I suggest you pay Snowshoe Mountain a visit.
If you are interested in outdoor recreation, I think it is very important that you know what type of establishments you are helping to fund. The tourism and recreation industry is exploitive by nature — it takes the most beautiful places in the world and opens them up to the masses. It is our job to be thoughtful consumers, and make sure that when we travel and recreate we choose organizations that take an active role in protecting the places they capitalize on.
Photos: MarvinKuo/Flickr and trentroche/Flickr