Record-Smashing Warmth Leaves Ski Resorts Scrambling To Stay Open

Warm weather, dearth of snow leave ski resorts scrambling to keep terrain, chairlifts open

Flowers are blooming along the sidewalks. Snow on the mountains is melting fast.
Residents here aren’t sure whether to ski or golf.

But most of them are certain of one thing: Climate change is not a hoax.

The Aspen Skiing Co., the mayor, a pair of county commissioners and many residents in town are pressuring the Aspen Chamber Resort Association to quit paying dues and divorce itself from the U.S. Chamber, which has aggressively lobbied against climate legislation over the years. The 680-member local chamber wrote a letter to the national group in 2010 delineating its political differences, but the debate this ski season — the driest one here since 1976-1977 — has become far more heated.

“The U.S. Chamber is the largest right-wing, climate-denying corporate front group on the planet. And Aspen supports it. Why?” asked Auden Schendler, the ski company’s vice president of sustainability. “Now is the time to actually do something that matters on climate. Aspen can be the Keystone XL of the Chamber fight.”

… Changing temperatures don’t just affect ski resorts in the winter. The forests that engulf them in the summers have been ravaged by bark beetles that thrive in warmer environs. The insects are sucking the life out of forests, leaving them more vulnerable to wildfires and changing them from green to brown. Foresters are having to devote more resources to combat climate change.

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