Skiing, Snow, and Rivers – Making the Connection

sledding | © Gene Han

Climate change is causing not only a lack of snow, but creating larger chain reactions everywhere.| © Gene Han

In his New York Times opinion piece, “The End of Snow” Porter Fox explains the impact climate change is having on snow and the implications for the ski industry. He gets to the core issue when he writes:

Why save skiing when there are more pressing consequences of climate change to worry about?” The answer is, this is not about skiing. It is about snow, a vital component of earth’s climate system and water cycle. When it disappears, what follows is a dangerous chain reaction of catastrophes like forest fires, drought, mountain pine beetle infestation, degraded river habitat, loss of hydroelectric power, dried-up aquifers and shifting weather patterns. Not to mention that more than a billion people around the world — including about 70 million in the western United States — rely on snowmelt for their fresh water supply.

We are feeling the impacts of climate change first and worst with water. That’s why it doesn’t make any sense for Aspen and the National Ski Areas Association to fight climate change, then turn around and support the so-called “Water Rights Protection Act” (HR 3189), a bill that could dry up rivers.

When we talk about climate change or drought, rivers need to be part of the conversation. If we aren’t looking at rivers, if we’re focused solely on water supply, then we’re just talking about a plumbing system.

But we want – we need – more than that. I want my two little boys to grow up with cool streams and kingfishers and wild salmon and ancient cottonwoods. I want them to fish and paddle and swim and ski, experiencing water in all of its magical forms. I want them to have healthy rivers as gathering places and sources of solitude and places of community pride.

Healthy rivers connect all of these things, from reliable clean water supplies to fish and wildlife to recreation and tourism and quality of life.

So Aspen, Jackson Hole, Killington, Canaan Valley, Mammoth, Mt Hood Meadows, and all of NSAA’s members: please change your minds and oppose this bad bill. We all need snow and we all need water, and most of all we all need healthy rivers.

One Response to “Skiing, Snow, and Rivers – Making the Connection”

Joanne McGrew

I do agree, we need healthy rivers. Breckenridge drained the Blue river dry in Dec of 2012 to make snow for the upcoming Dew tour. Dead fish all through town. Just because you have the water rights doesn’t make the action correct. It was a dry early season. Why not move the event to January, when there is more guarantee of snow?

The water law is Colorado needs some major changes. Agriculture and towns need to look at the usage. In Salida, I have been told, that if the town doesn’t use the allotted water they have the next year it is reduced, so people grow grass in front yards in a high dessert. How is that right?

The discussion needs to start. You can’t grow green grass in areas where the rain can’t support it. There are so many chain reactions to turf….it’s a bad thing