Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Did snowmaking save our winter?

What a pathetic winter! It seems like this winter never really happened or we were cheated out of our season passes. I know,  I know.... you can't judge this winter by 2010-2011 snowfall amounts in the US, nor can you judge it over the last 150 (well maybe), but really we got ripped off by mother nature this year!

Towards the beginning of the season, many resorts relied on snowmaking equipment to lay down their base. Some resorts in the southeast got to watch it melt time-after-time again. Heavenly did the best they could to crank out large amounts thanks to some pretty sweet equipment-but that's a lot of acreage, Mammoth was bummed early on, and then Colorado finally got some snow. Now in March it seems like people are breathing a sigh of relief due to Miracle March or have moved on to spring.

Here's the deal though, there was a lot of snowmaking this year! That takes the right temperature, which some of us got, but it also takes a lot of water from reservoirs or sources on the ski resorts. Now this blog focuses on sustainability, but you can't deny that when it comes to getting to snowboard or not getting to snowboard most people are chanting, "crank up the guns" and "fire em up" or were watching resort webcams in hopes of seeing the snowmaking crew out there or the snowmaking machines on spreading the love.

Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to make it snow more. You can be a voice and you can advocate and educate yourself on climate change, but it doesn't make it snow more right now when you want it to.  I joined Protect Our Winters a few months ago and encourage you to visit the site and to link from their site to other educational resources. I believe it's a good to have a voice and to educate people on the issues.

Which brings me back to our current winter and current events over snowmaking, droughts, and water availability. There is a big debate going on right now over water rights that involves the ski industry. The National Ski Area Association is suing the US Forest Service over a water rights clause. It's in the Wall Street JournalESPN, and outlined in their memo. The debate has been on-and-off since the 1980s, but the fact that this is making the news this season again when resorts are making a lot of snow kinda hits home. Who has the right to own the water, the land owner or the permit owner? This does ruffle some political feathers.