Summit resorts outline climate response | AspenTimes.com

Summit resorts outline climate response

Bob Berwyn
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

FRISCO, Colo. ” Resort executives acknowledged the urgency of addressing global warming at a panel discussion in Frisco Thursday evening, and said they can lead the way in spurring public awareness because of the high visibility of the ski industry.

“We are kind of action central in the West for warming temperatures,” said Rocky Mountain Climate Organization program director Tom Easley, citing a list of impacts with implications for local ski resorts.

Most climate change models project large decreases in snowpack, earlier snowmelt, more winter rain events and reduced summer flows in mountain streams, Easley said.

There haven’t been many studies that specifically pinpoint impacts to Colorado ski areas Easley said.

But some of the research suggests that Aspen’s base area could be snow-free by the end of this century.

That kind of dire news has spurred top industry officials to take the issue seriously.

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It’s not a tertiary issue, but something that is “front and center,” for National Ski Areas Association president Michael Berry.

And judging by the green talk at the Our Future Summit forum, local resorts are taking concrete steps to meet the challenge head-on.

Copper Mountain’s environmental manager Jen Schenk said her resort is establishing some baseline greenhouse gas emission figures against which to measure progress in coming years.

“If you’re not measuring it, it’s pretty tough to save energy,” Schenk said.

Breckenridge Ski Area’s vice president of mountain operations, Rick Sramek said his resort has long been conscious of energy use.

By focusing on more efficient snowmaking equipment, and improvements to its snowcat fleet, the area has managed to keep energy use in check while improving its product and service level, he explained.

Keystone environmental manager Dave November focused on recycling.

Keystone typically recycles about 1,000 tons of material per year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by abou 1,400 tons, he said.