• The slopes around Alta Lodge which have been cleared for ski runs. Courtesy of the University of Utah - J. Willard Marriott Library via Mountain West Digital Library.

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    Alta lodge
    • Date
    • 1940-1950
    • Description
    • Photo shows a view of Alta Lodge and the early ski area, perhaps in the 1940s
    • Rights
    • This material may be protected by copyright. Permission required for use in any form. For further information please contact the Multimedia Archivist, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Utah - J. Willard Marriott Library

  • Recycled World War II nurse’s barracks used for ski lodge. Courtesy of the University of Utah - J. Willard Marriott Library via Mountain West Digital Library.

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    Peruvian Lodge
    • Date
    • 1970-1989
    • Creator
    • Wilburn or Jean Pickett
    • Description
    • Image of Peruvian Lodge at Alta ski resort in Utah
    • Rights
    • This material may be protected by copyright. Permission required for use in any form. For further information please contact the Multimedia Archives, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Utah - J. Willard Marriott Library

  • Barren slopes around Rustler Lodge, Alta, Utah illustrate how the landscape is changed by ski resorts. Courtesy of the University of Utah - J. Willard Marriott Library via Mountain West Digital Library.

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    Rustler Lodge
    • Date
    • 1980-1999
    • Creator
    • Wilburn or Jean Pickett
    • Description
    • Photo of Rustler Lodge at Alta ski resort, Utah, in the 1980s or 1990s
    • Rights
    • This material may be protected by copyright. Permission required for use in any form. For further information please contact the Multimedia Archives, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Utah - J. Willard Marriott Library

  • Skiers on the deck of a ski lodge view cleared slopes. Courtesy of the University of Utah - J. Willard Marriott Library via Mountain West Digital Library.

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    Skiers on deck of ski lodge
    • Date
    • 1950-1959
    • Description
    • Black and white photo of unidentified skiers on deck of a ski lodge at Alta ski resort, Utah, in the 1950s
    • Rights
    • This material may be protected by copyright. Permission required for use in any form. Please contact the Multimedia Archives, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.
    • Partner
    • Mountain West Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • University of Utah - J. Willard Marriott Library

In order to develop ski resorts, mountain areas need to be cleared of trees to develop trail systems. Runs are developed by cutting and removing trees, or by using a bulldozer to remove tree stumps and slope irregularity. This process reduces topsoil and causes soil erosion, but remains a popular method because it requires less snow pack in order to open the ski area.

Increased soil erosion increases the likelihood of landslides and bared slopes increase avalanche activity. Snow grooming machines and artificial snowmaking cause irreparable damage to soil and vegetation, as some resorts infuse their snow with salt to make the runs faster for skiers. Artificial snowmaking also uses an abundance of water and energy, further stressing resources in an area. Resort development damages local wildlife populations through destruction of habitat.

Many ski areas are developed with the permission of the Forest Service through leases of public lands. Forest Service supervision and increased awareness of protecting the environment have caused ski resorts and visitors to consider the consequences of development. Creating or expanding a ski resort is a long process, involving several preliminary stages of planning before permission to build is given and any work can commence. Developers have to work to ensure the proper environmental precautions are taken, while already developed areas work to decrease their footprint on the environment.