Oregon's Timberline Lodge and Ski Area received accolades this summer with a special certification granted to the resort. Sustainable Travel International recognized Timberline Lodge in June as the first ski resort in the world to receive third-party audited eco-certification for sustainable travel operations.

The Sustainable Tourism Eco-certification ProgramTM (STEP) is the world's first global certification program that identifies resorts for travelers whose practices support sustainable tourism. STEP targets environmental, socio-cultural, and economic issues that affect the tourism industry. Those issues include global climate change, biodiversity preservation, water and waste management, and economic development. The goal of the program is to reduce the impact that travel and tourism have on the environment and local cultures.

The lodge and ski area, which was built in the Great Depression, has been operated since 1955 by RLK and Company. The company was lauded in the eco-certification process for their environmental conservation, cultural heritage, historic preservation, and economic development.

Several practices instituted at Timberline Lodge helped the company to garner the eco-certification. Timberline employees lead a green team, while stewardship of the historic facility is provided in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the Friends of Timberline. Some of the resort's successes have been in company-wide and guest recycling opportunities, energy reduction, and energy-efficient upgrades. An overnight guest donation program is in place to benefit the National Forest Foundation and the Friends of Timberline in protecting the National Historic Landmark.

Efforts to preserve the historic lodge were aided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which pumped money this summer into renovations. The $4.24 million project shored up aging infrastructure and rehabilitated places suffering from years of wear and tear. Improvements included repaving the parking lot, replacing guest room windows with new thermo panes, rebuilding chimneys, improving public restroom facilities, re-flooring the day lodge, and painting the exterior of the historic lodge.

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