As June begins, and you pack away leftovers from your Memorial Day barbeques, the furthest thing from your mind is skiing. But as ski lodge owners open their mountains resorts for the summer, and humidity rises in D.C, we cannot forget the impacts of climate change on our industry. Today, Mt. Hood Meadows joins with 107 other ski areas as a part of the National Ski Areas Association to sign the Climate Declaration, which calls upon federal policymakers to seize the American economic opportunity of addressing climate change.
Climate change has altered weather patterns to the degree that we can no longer rely on regular season snows to bolster our businesses. 2011 was the fourth-warmest winter on record since 1896, forcing half the nation’s ski areas to open late and almost half to close early. In turn, our communities are also at risk as they rely heavily on us for tourism and employment. Ski industry leaders are concerned not just with the threat climate change has to their own operations but also its impacts on rising sea levels, wildlife habitat, the health of our forests, and truly our way of life. We recognize both the risks of inaction as well as the opportunity for U.S. leadership in combating climate change.
The economic influence of our trade is enormous. Ski areas in the U.S. employ about 160,000 people and generate about $12.2 billion in annual revenue. The National Ski Areas Association calculates that visitors to U.S. ski areas spent $5.8 billion at those resorts over the course of the 2011/2012 season. Preliminary figures from the 2012/2013 season show an 11 percent increase in visits year-over-year, to an estimated 56.6 million visits this season.
Mt. Hood Meadows is already taking precautionary measures in our operations by:
Supporting Clean, Renewable Energy
by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to power our operations from clean, wind energy. In addition, there is a myriad of innovative ways we are minimizing our energy consumption, including installation of energy efficient and motion-sensor activated lighting, Energy Star rated appliances and an energy management system throughout the resort.
Minimizing our Water Footprint
taking several steps to reduce our water footprint, restore area wetlands, control erosion via storm water and snowmelt runoff management systems, and through native seed collection and re-vegetation. Installing low-flow toilets as well as energy/water efficient appliances (including waterless urinals), saves a minimum of 285,000 gallons annually.
Minimizing our Carbon Footprint
through our “Know Idling” policy instead of “NO!” idling to encourage responsible and appropriate idling which varies by vehicle and equipment. We promote public transportation options, provide free bus transportation for seasonal staff and are proud to share that our guests have a rate of public transit usage double of most ski resorts in the United States. We are a founding partner with SkiGreen, Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s program to offset carbon emissions from vehicle travel. The program offers a simple, affordable way for guests to offset the carbon footprint of their travel to and from the mountain.
Sourcing our Restaurants with Local, Sustainable Food
minimizes the impact of deliveries with bulk purchases and wherever disposables are offering biodegradable and compostable cups and tableware from rapidly renewable resources.
LEED Certified Buildings
our two LEED certified buildings including our Emergency Services (Gold) and the Ski Patrol Headquarters (Silver) demonstrates our commitment to minimize our impact on the mountain.
Mt. Hood Meadows is one of 20 participating ski companies that took on the Climate Challenge - committing to reduce emissions by at least 17 percent below 2011 emissions by 2020. Though these action help to drive efficiency throughout our businesses, they alone will not be enough to tackle the threat of climate change.
We are an energy and water-intensive industry that sees a serious response to climate change as an economic opportunity. That is why Mt. Hood Meadows has signed and endorsed the Climate Declaration, a statement prepared by Ceres and its BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy) coalition that urges federal lawmakers to take action on climate change.
We need a coordinated effort from policy leaders to address this issue so we can keep our slopes sustainable. Future generations should be able enjoy a snow day on our hills, and we know signing the Declaration
is a step toward ensuring this.