New Jersey is the Garden State. License plates there say so. 

Next month, New Jerseyans’ calendar includes the Garden State GreenFest, and the state’s largest newspaper,The Star-Ledger, has been promoting the event with a series of ads.

One recently proclaimed: “Green Tip #47: Make Snow Sports Greener. Trail grooming, ski lift operations and snowmaking are extremely energy-intensive and are harmful to natural resources and to wildlife. Try to choose ski resorts that are committed to reducing their effects on the environment.”

New Jersey offers little skiing, compared to much of North America, but it does produce skiers and riders willing to travel all over the world to indulge their passion for snowy mountains.

Most skiers and riders love the outdoors and want to preserve it for future generations.

Snow enthusiasts determining where to head for a day trip, a weekend or the vacation of a lifetime, however, are probably first checking on snow conditions, and deals, not whether the resort operator pours cooking oil left over from making French fries into its snowmobiles.

In fact, even the most confirmed environmentalist might be hard pressed to evaluate his or her favorite sliding spots on, as the Green Tip demands, how committed they are “to reducing their effects on the environment.”

Turns out the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), based in Lakewood, Colo., makes it easy for us to find out.

Their website has the text of “Sustainable Slopes: the environmental charter for ski areas,” and lets you check whether your favorite mountain resort has endorsed this charter. You press a key, A to Z, and up pops the names.

NSAA members have worked on “Sustainable Slopes” since 2000.

The organization has added a “Climate Challenge” called “Keep Winter Cool.” This is a system by which resort companies find out how to develop carbon inventories, and measure “success in reducing their overall carbon footprints.”

Michael Berry, NSAA president, said, “The premier alpine recreation sites we have today were made possible through the vision, pioneering spirit and hard work of our industry’s founders. The value of those efforts holds today, as resorts are showcases of quality recreation opportunities for skiers, snowboarders, and countless summer guests as well.”

“Although many forces may draw us to the slopes—the thrill and excitement of sliding down a mountain, the chance to reconnect with family and friends—we can never underestimate the value of the natural surroundings in renewing the human spirit. We respect the natural settings that we call home and hope that through our current efforts, we will preserve this same experience for future generations to enjoy.”

NSAA each year awards what it calls its Golden Eagle for “Overall Environmental Excellence.” The most recent reflect the geographic and size varieties of places a skier or rider might choose.

The 2010 prize went to [R493R, Whistler Blackcomb] in British Columbia; 2009 – [R157R, Grand Targhee], Wyo.; 2008 – [R193R, Jiminy Peak] in western Mass., and 2007 – [R404R, Snowbird], Utah.

The NSAA web site also features news on what resorts are doing right now.

[R157R, Grand Targhee], for instance, is working with POW (Protect Our Winters) on New Year’s Resolution for the resort, its guests and staff to reduce the use of single-serve plastic bottles. The resort began selling water only in reusable containers, and installed refill stations so skiers and riders could use tap water in their bottles.

Protect Our Winters, describes itself, as “the environmental center point of the winter sports community, united towards a common goal of reducing climate change's effects on our sport and local mountain communities.

“We believe that to really effect things, consumer behavior needs to change and that the power of an actively participating and united community can have a direct influence on climate change, now and for generations behind us.”

Protect Our Winters is a nonprofit organization based in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Jeremy Jones, a professional snowboarder for 15 years who has been voted the “Best Big Mountain Rider of the Year” by Snowboarder magazine, founded the group, and is its CEO.

More information:National Ski Areas AssociationProtect Our Winters