Dave Fields and Alan Henceroth: Thousands of jobs come with healthy ski industry

Representatives from Utah and Colorado’s ski country should consider economic benefits and do critical work to find climate solutions.

(Dave Fields | Snowbird) About 16 ski patrollers stayed at Snowbird during its rare multi-day interlodge and while State Route 210 was closed for the better part of two weeks in April.

Climate change is a daunting challenge for ski area operators. While Utah and Colorado experienced the benefits of abundant snowfall this season, we are realistic about changing weather patterns and concerned about expected future climate impacts like rising temperatures, precipitation shifts from snow to rain, and increasingly frequent extreme and potentially catastrophic weather events.

While we compete for bragging rights on who has the best powder, skiing, and riding, we align on the need to tackle climate change boldly and swiftly.

(Dave Fields | Snowbird) About 16 ski patrollers stayed at Snowbird during its rare multi-day interlodge and while State Route 210 was closed for the better part of two weeks in April.

As businesses on the front lines of climate change, ski areas are working proactively on climate solutions with a focus on mitigation, resiliency and advocacy. Resorts like Arapahoe Basin and Snowbird have been particularly active in these areas, implementing numerous energy and transportation efficiency projects early on. We’re both home to innovative electricity generation projects and are both hosts of robust waste reduction programs. We’ve both weighed in strongly on policy issues with environmental implications and we continue to protect our stunning physical landscapes from overuse and a changing environment through thoughtful and forward-thinking stewardship and restoration projects. However, we also both recognize the need for action beyond our ski area boundaries.

To create effective, meaningful and lasting changes focused on climate, bipartisan action is necessary not just in our state governments, but beyond. We are relieved to see that bipartisan work on climate change is gaining momentum, and hope to further support this. In the last several years, we have witnessed dozens of Republicans joining the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the Senate, and we have watched the Conservative Climate Caucus (CCC) in the House swell to over 75 members. This is encouraging, because the current makeup of Congress makes bipartisanship absolutely critical to decarbonizing our economy and helping businesses like Snowbird and Arapahoe Basin stay viable.

We commend Rep. John Curtis, chair of the Conservative Climate Caucus and co-chair of the Congressional Ski & Snowboard Caucus, for his work on rallying conservatives to climate action. We thank Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn and Utah Reps. Moore, Stewart and Owens for joining the CCC, and we thank all members of Congress in both chambers who are at the table ready to work on climate solutions. We ask that every representative from Utah and Colorado’s ski country consider the thousands of jobs and significant economic benefits that come from a healthy ski industry, and join in this critical work finding smart climate solutions.

Great progress has already been made on reducing carbon emissions with bipartisan action in the past: the Energy Act of 2020, the climate provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Growing Climate Solutions Act are proof that it is possible to find common ground and overcome gridlock. We stand ready to support additional bipartisan action on climate through a pragmatic combination of tools, potentially including carbon tariffs, transmission bills, and permit reform in order to accelerate our nation’s transition to clean, renewable and reliable energy.

We look forward to supporting NSAA in joining forces with environmental leaders in other industries at the 5th annual Ceres LEAD on climate advocacy event in Washington. Together, we will share a call to action for continued bipartisan focus on climate solutions and resiliency. If skiers and snowboarders can make turns in harmony, and Utah and Colorado ski areas can unite behind a common cause, anything can be possible in the 118th Congress.

We know we have a ton of work to do going forward, but the ski industry is hopeful for the future and optimistic about our ability to tackle climate change together. Our future, and that of mountain communities across 37 states, depends on it.

Dave Fields

Alan Henceroth of Arapahoe Basin

Dave Fields is president of Snowbird and Alan Henceroth is chief operating officer of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. Both are board members of the National Ski Areas Association.