Berkshire East Becomes the World’s First Ski Area to Be Completely Powered by Wind

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Berkshire EastBerkshire East Ski Area and the Schaefer family recently hosted an event to mark the commissioning of the PowerWind56, the resort’s new 900kW wind turbine that makes it the first ski area in the world to satisfy more than 100 percent of its energy needs with its own onsite wind power generator.

By taking power production into their own hands, Berkshire East has stabilized their energy costs and dramatically reduced their carbon footprint. State and federal grants made the project possible, along with a loan offered by a local Greenfield Savings Bank. The supportive assistance from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center provided a total of $440,000 in grants to the wind project that paid for the turbine's feasibility study, design and construction.

Interior Secretary Salazar's New Wildlife Refuge Vision Plan to Reinforce Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceSecretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has released a draft vision plan to guide the growth and management of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Entitled "Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation" the document was developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Refuge Association and articulates a 10-year vision for the Refuge System.

The last time a vision statement was articulated for the System was 1999, and the Conserving the Future process comes on the heels of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to develop a conservation and outdoor recreation agenda for the 21st century. The Refuge System goes hand-in-hand with priorities identified through the America’s Great Outdoors national dialogue, including greater access to recreation and connecting a new generation of conservationists to the outdoors.

House and Senate Introduce Bill to Utilize Ski Areas for Summer Activities

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US Forest ServiceSenators Mark Udall (Colorado) and John Barrasso (Wyoming) and Representatives Rob Bishop (Utah) and Diana DeGette (Colorado) have introduced the Ski Area Recreation Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 to amend the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986. This bill would change permitting rules for ski areas on Forest Service land to allow for summertime recreation and increased tourism—and the influx of year-round business they bring.

Tucson's Summit Hut Announces Grant Finalists

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Summit HutEach year in Tucson, the local retailer Summit Hut hosts the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, and for the last few years a portion of the proceeds has been donated back to the store's local community in the form of grants. Last year’s grants were $2,000 each and this year Summit Hut accepted applications from 17 applicants.

Bank of the West Invests in a NOLS Education with Sponsored Scholarships

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NOLSThe Bank of the West has agreed to endow the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) with a scholarship of $1,000 to be granted to Wyoming residents who take NOLS courses. Each year NOLS offers over $1,000,000 in scholarship assistance to applicants who show great potential to excel as outdoor leaders and who would be unable to attend without financial aid.

EPA Partners Continue Large Green Power Purchases

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its list of the top 50 partner organizations using the most renewable electricity (solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass, and low-impact hydropower) to help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Mountaineering Orgs Release Action Alert in Face of Dramatic National Park Fee Hike

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NPSThe AMGA, Access Fund, and American Alpine Club have prepared an advocacy strategy to propose ways to cut mountaineering program costs and generate alternative sources of revenue to support the mountaineering programs at both Parks.

The strategy comes as a reaction to Denali and Rainier National Parks proposing substantial mountaineering fee increases. Denali National Park is proposing to raise mountaineering fees by 150 percent, from $200 to $500. Rainier National Park is considering raising fees from $30 to $58.

EPA, Schools Tackle Indoor Air Quality

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EPAThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held its 11th Annual Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools National Symposium in Washington, D.C. January 13–15. The meeting brought together school board officials, administrators, health association members, school nurses, teachers, parents, and others to take charge in protecting the indoor air environments of children in schools. At the symposium eight school districts across the country were recognized for leading the way to improving conditions at their schools.

Cincinnati: Fountainhead for New Water Technology Innovation Cluster

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WTICU.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills have announced a new collaborative effort called the Water Technology Innovation Cluster (WTIC) in Cincinnati, Ohio.

EPA has invested $5 million to conduct key studies of the environmental technology market place for drinking water, acquire the services of a cluster consultant, and conduct technology and knowledge mapping of the region to gauge its strengths. WTIC will develop, test, and market innovative processes and technologies including those that: are sustainable, and water and energy efficient; will be cost effective for the utilities and consumers; address a broad array of contaminants; and improve public health protection.

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