Squaw Valley and POW Take a Stand on Climate Change

Squaw Valley’s Andy Wirth and Protect Our Winters’ Chris Steinkamp take a stand on climate change in response to the San Francisco Chronicle article “Warmer Winters Chill Ski Industry”.

Ref: December 7, 2012 article by Peter Fimrite on climate change titled, “Warmer winters chill ski industry.”

Dear Mr. Bushee,

It was with both great celebration and then incredulity that I read last Friday’s article on climate change, which was follow-up coverage of the recently published NRDC – POW report on climate change and its potential impact on the ski resort communities’ economies. It was also accompanied by a sensationalist photo that didn’t at all capture our current conditions; remarkably, sensationalizing a topic that we take very seriously and seek others to take seriously.

I celebrated and welcomed the SF Chronicle’s article for covering a report that illustrated the economic impact of our industry and our collective contributions to local, regional and state economies. The report and coverage on climate change also draws attention to a very serious matter and a body of science, which I believe provides for the immutable truth that climate change is not a future issue, but an issue to be taken seriously now.

My incredulity was based on the writer’s, Mr. Peter Fimrite, development of a false premise that doesn’t exist by suggesting, due to our current cold temperatures, eleven feet of snow and our 820-inch snowfall season two seasons ago, that I and our company don’t believe in the impact of climate change. Moreover, the writer sets up an antagonist/protagonist relationship between our company and the referenced scientist, relative to climate change that simply doesn’t exist. In fact, we are and I am in violent agreement with the body of science of climate change.

When asked as CEO of this company if climate change has impacted our hiring, business plans and capital expenditures, my response was accurately “no,” however, and most importantly, we are acutely aware of the realities and adverse long-term impacts of climate change to our society, collective commerce in the region and state, and within our own company.

When I referenced the 2010/11 ski season whereby our 820-inch snowfall season, I didn’t suggest it was a counterpoint to climate change, but rather I told the story of that July 4th, 2011 day when we had five chairlifts and a great deal of terrain open, and I told a crowd of thousands gathered that day for a free concert that, in the very face of record snow and an extended season, climate change is real and that it remains very much a serious issue for us all.

We’ve enjoyed one of the colder and snowier October/Novembers on record this year, yet we don’t suggest that there’s a respite from concern about climate change. It’s so critical to not allow the day-to-day, month-to-month variances in weather to take our attention away from long-term truths of climate change.

Well before the NRDC / POW report was released, we had taken action and have been supporting, directly, POW with fundraising efforts. From baselining our carbon footprint to actively and presently reducing our carbon footprint and CO2 emissions, and imbuing contemporary sustainability practices in our company (while not branding our efforts or seeking publicity) and with all of our staff, our actions are known by POW and are testament to our mores.

Climate change is very real and we take it seriously. We feel that in-depth discussions and “deep current” thought analysis and strategic actions are what’s needed to affect change, not sensationalist and inaccurate reporting.

Lastly, please see below for an accurate image from our mid mountain where the snow surface is outstanding and many of our guests are enjoying our two great mountains that feature some of the best early season skiing in the resort’s history; but don’t be fooled, climate change is real and is upon us presently.


Ref: December 9th, 2012 article by Peter Fimrite: Warmer Winters Chill Ski Industry

Dear Editor:
As a co-sponsor of the report, Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the US, we appreciate the attention being given to this important report, but it was interesting to see where Peter Fimrite took his story in last Sunday’s Chronicle.

Our goal with writing the report was to put a price tag on winter, to legitimize it on Capitol Hill and for everyone else who didn’t recognize what is really at stake, so that meaningful conversations can be had on climate solutions. What’s the price of winter? What do we stand to lose if climate change continues down this path? Now we know, and it’s the jobs and economic livelihoods of our friends, families and co-workers.

It’s not to say who does or doesn’t have snow this week, because as we all know, what’s outside the window today is weather, not climate.

As a global non-profit, we work with a number of corporate partners who understand the gravity of the situation and are committed to finding long-term solutions. Squaw Valley is one of them. They understand climate change’s potential impact on their business are taking major steps to fight it. It’s not going to happen overnight, nor would it be realistic to expect that it should.

It’s misdirected to focus on Squaw’s current snow depth at the base lodge to illustrate the larger issue of global climate change and just flat-out wrong to infer that they don’t believe in the impact of climate change. Just the opposite in fact, President/CEO Andy Wirth has been one of the most outspoken ski resort executives about the need to proactively address climate change. They take it very seriously.

In a very short time, Squaw Valley has baselined their carbon footprint, have been actively reducing their carbon footprint and CO2 emissions throughout their operation and have partnered with Protect Our Winters to take a leadership role in activism and policy.

If you’re going to ask any ski resort about how businesses should address climate change, Squaw should be one of the few that you’d ask first.

Thank you,
Chris Steinkamp
Executive Director
Protect Our Winters

Posted on December 14th, by The Shane McConkey Foundation in Uncategorized.

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