Report: Oregon's $320M winter tourism industry at risk from climate change
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
A report on the impacts of climate change on winter tourism shows impacts of diminished snowfall. Click through the gallery to see report highlights.
A report released Thursday by the Natural Resources Defense Council and a nonprofit called Save Our Winters finds that the winter tourism industry — mainly skiing and snowmobile riding — across 38 states has already lost $1 billion in the last decade due to diminishing snowfall.
And the forecast included in the report, "Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States," isn't very snowy.
Without intervention, the report states, "winter temperatures are projected to warm an additional 4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, with subsequent decreases in snow cover area."
For Oregon, that means a $320 million industry that supplies 5,565 jobs could be at risk. Researchers found that low-snow years over the last decade, brought down skier visits by 31 percent in Oregon.
"For those whose livelihood depends upon a predictable winter season, such unpredictability and lack of snow can translate into a precipitous fall in revenue, an early economic indicator of what climate change looks like,” said Antonia Herzog, assistant director of the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a press release. “In order to protect winter — and the hundreds of thousands whose livelihoods depend upon a snow-filled season — we must act now to support policies that protect our climate, and in turn, our slopes.”
The report adds numbers around a phenomenon that's been evident to ski fans across the country. While there have been some great snow seasons in recent years — causing problems with high spring runoff in Oregon — dependable winter ski seasons have become a thing of the past.
“This data reaffirms the fact that ski resort CEOs and trade groups leaders have a fiscal responsibility to both understand climate change and respond at scale,” said Auden Schendler, vice president of sustainability for Aspen Ski Company. “That should be the industry’s highest priority.”
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