Running a ski resort is an energy-intensive activity, so the management at [R454R, Taos Ski Valley] hopes some new on-the-slope equipment and a carbon offset program will reduce the resort's energy footprint.

Taos Ski Valley has hooked up with Renewable Choice Energy, which provides carbon offsets to small businesses, to join in the global challenge of climate change. A carbon offset represents a reduction in emissions somewhere else -- like a renewable energy or a reforestation project -- to balance out the emissions a business cannot reduce.

"We make these decisions because it's our way of life here," said Adriana Blake, administrative manager at the northern New Mexico resort. "When you live in an environment as beautiful as Taos Ski Valley, you can't help but understand how important it is to reduce energy usage and do your part in cutting carbon emissions."

Taos management purchased five new snowmobiles with four-stroke, gasoline engines over the summer. The new, quieter machines replace older-model, two-stroke snowmobiles that consumed quite a bit of motor oil - and made a lot of noise -- said General Manager Gordon Briner. The ski area maintains a fleet of about 30 snowmobiles during winter.

Two new snow-cats with upgraded drives and technology replace a pair of used models, one of which was sold to a local rancher for winter travel. One of the new grooming machines has a winch setup, Briner said, meaning that popular steeps like Pell Glade and Mo's will get rolled more this season than in the past. Taos Ski Valley keeps seven snow-cats busy.

The resort also emphasizes recycling by asking patrons to bring their own water bottles when they come to ski or ride. Water that is sold on the mountain will come in recyclable cardboard containers, like juice boxes.