The Ski Area Environmental Scorecard, a non-industry, independent mechanism that gives skiers and boarders a way to assess the environmental performance of their favorite Western resorts, has come out with its latest national findings.

Two Colorado resorts - Aspen and Buttermilk - are at the apex of the rankings.

Using such criteria as maintaining terrain within existing footprint, preserving undisturbed lands from redevelopment, protecting threatened or endangered species and their habitat, preserving/protecting environmentally sensitive areas, protecting water quality and the resorts' water and energy efficiency, the Scorecard grades resorts from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific.

Aspen Mountain had the highest grade of all at 85.7, and was immediately followed by its sister resort of Buttermilk at 85.2. As a comparison of grades, Sundance - the Robert Redford-owned resort in Utah - came in at No. 3 with an 82.2 score). Aspen Highlands (76.6) and Telluride (74.3) were slotted into the top 10 at Nos. 7 and 10, respectively.

Overall, Colorado resorts graded fairly well on the Ski Area Environmental Scorecard, with the average score moving up from 59.7 last year to 63.4 this year. Crested Butte showed the biggest improvement, increasing its score 15.2 from the dismal 42 of last season.

The Ski Area Citizens' Coalition, which is based in Durango, Colo., and conducts the annual survey, attributed the improved scores to expanded efforts to reduce energy consumption and to install green energy technology among other factors.