To the New York Times Editor,
In your February 14 blog post, “A Report Card for Ski Resorts,” there was mention that many of the ski resorts in the northwest plan on expanding or have expanded. However, the number of skiers has risen by only a percentage point annually since 1978.
It’s also worth noting that almost half of all alpine ski resorts in the US have closed in the last 20 years. This poses the question: why expand? If the number of skiers are declining every year and places are closing, the resorts cannot make back their money if they do decide to expand.
According to the chart provided in the article, 32 percent of resorts in the Rockies, California and Nevada, Washington and Oregon, expanded. Now, I understand that not all expansion is bad. But with Colorado’s Monarch Mountain going from a ‘B’ to a ‘D’ because they wanted to expand their lift-service, was the expansion necessary?
The biggest factor in grading looks to be the use of snow-making machines. The Arizona Snowball chose not to participate in the survey. “Knowing that the snow-making project would be judged negatively,” said the ski area’s manager, J. R. Murray. However, the use of their specific machine shouldn’t be looked at negatively. They were the first resort to make snow from 100 percent sewage effluent. In my opinion, the use of power the snow machine uses is less impactful than the use of sewage effluent to make snow.
Now, if more resorts can use sewage effluent to make snow, then maybe these report cards and rating systems wouldn’t penalize resorts for using snow machines. Then again, using snow machines comes from the ever-changing climate, which is a result of many different things. It’s a vicious circle. People drive to resort, releasing carbon dioxide into the air and making Earth warmer. As a result, there is less snow which forces resorts to use high-powered snow machines to bring more people in. More people visit resort and so on.
The ski industry is growing bigger every year. There is a huge population in the northwest and a bigger one in the northeast that travel to these resorts during the late-winter months. If these resorts all over the country can become greener like the Arizona Snowball, then we may be able to see change in the future. I’m not saying that they need to make snow from sewage effluent, but if they can cut down on fuel, electric or any other power source, then profits could increase while keeping costs low.