Vail’s natural beauty draws visitors year-round. To maintain and protect our region’s sprawling meadows, rushing rivers, clean air and majestic wildlife, we’ve made it a mission to address sustainability head on.
How Vail is Addressing Sustainability
Conservation has been an integral part of Vail’s identity since the town was founded. In fact, when Vail was incorporated in 1966, one of the core values outlined was Environmental Stewardship. Since then, Vail has taken many measures to promote and participate in sustainability efforts. Below, see just some of the initiatives and partnerships in effect that we hope will make you proud to visit the Vail Valley for skiing, snowboarding, river rafting, hiking, biking and more.
Reducing Ecosystem Impact
Vail is abundant in majestic wildlife and striking flora that define colorful Colorado. That’s why protecting and restoring public lands, minimizing trash and preventing ecosystem damage are at the forefront of our sustainability efforts. Restore the Gore is an ongoing restoration initiative that you can see for yourself throughout the villages. Since 2016, 25,000 native trees and shrubs were planted along Gore Creek. This lush greenery reduces erosion, creates habitat and provides crucial shade to the creek, keeping it cooler for the fish that live within its rushing waters.
According to Pete Wadden, Vail’s watershed health specialist: “Efforts like Restore the Gore are more important than ever in an era of climate uncertainty and water scarcity. Nothing can live without clean water, not even people. Vail is a headwaters community at the very top of the Colorado River watershed. The Colorado River system provides water to 40 million people across seven states and the Republic of Mexico, not to mention countless plants and animals. Our community has an obligation to protect this water resource not only for our own water needs, but for everyone else downstream who counts on snowmelt that originates right here to maintain their lifestyles and communities.”
Locals’ Tip: See the impact of this program by heading to the peaceful creekside path by Vail Public Library. There, you will find native vegetation planted using a cribbing technique, which restores the habitat along the bank and reduces erosion from the burbling creek. When you walk or bike along the path, you’ll also notice a fence has been installed to ensure the banks remain undisturbed. You can spot the difference it makes by comparing vegetation growing within the fence to the area on the other side where the public can walk.
The Town of Vail tracks emissions and uses that data to build actionable energy-reduction strategies. The goal? A 50% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and an 80% decrease by 2050. And there are many ways our village plans to get there. Some highlights you can see the next time you visit include multiple solar PV installations in town. This provides a large boost to the local clean energy supply, with many rooftop systems on public buildings feeding directly to the grid. In addition, Vail’s electric grid is currently 50% renewable, and through the Holy Cross Energy PuRE program, 100% of electricity powering the town comes from renewable energy.
Did you ever notice that the pedestrian walkways in Vail’s villages are clear of snow and ice throughout the winter? This convenience comes from our large snowmelt system, designed to keep the area safer and easier to navigate during the colder months. So far, we have converted one of the four boilers from natural gas to electric, reducing its emissions. While this is just a start, the town is exploring options to fully decarbonize the snowmelt system.
Locals’ Tip: When you visit, don’t forget to take advantage of our free public buses that transport visitors and community members throughout the village. They not only help reduce the number of vehicles on our roads — but also make it easy to get around. By 2032, the entire fleet will be fully electric.
Reaching Zero Waste
A key component of Vail’s sustainability plan is waste reduction. Through the Love Vail program, our village gets businesses involved in composting waste through rebates and easy-to-adopt pickup systems. These programs mean less organic material ends up in the local landfill, reducing the amount of methane gas entering the atmosphere. Plus, it creates nutrient-rich soil that helps our plants grow. Eagle County’s Climate Action Plan projects that our region will reduce the amount of compostable material entering the landfill by 80% by 2030.
You can see examples of these efforts and beyond throughout the Vail Valley. Walking Mountains Science Center helps the community plan and execute zero-waste events, where all materials are reusable, recyclable or compostable. And winter-sports lovers can rest assured that their ski mountain is also doing their part, because none of the trash from the Vail Mountain goes to the landfill. When you visit, you’ll notice plenty of convenient bins for recycling and composting.
Locals’ Tip: Businesses throughout the community have adopted zero-waste practices. Stop by Gravity Haus Vail, where Unravel Coffee serves up their java in to-go jars so no paper cups land in the landfill. Discover other Vail coffee shops where you can grab a cup of joe.
Vail Sustainability: Educating the Community & Visitors
From free ecology lessons at Gore Creek to youth education at the Nature Discovery Center and climate awareness hikes throughout the summer, education is the path forward to maintain Vail’s beauty. When you visit, know that the community is dedicated to safeguarding the soaring mountain views, wildflower-filled fields and precious natural resources that make Vail such a magical destination.
You and your family can get involved and learn more about environmental sustainability during your next trip to Vail. Discover more about our environmental initiatives, educational sessions, sustainability events and volunteer opportunities at lovevail.org.
Discover More for Your Vail Visit
Looking for more itinerary inspiration for your next trip to Vail, Colorado? Check out these resources: