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Ski Area Impacts On The Environment

1444 words - 6 pages

One of the most visible and mutual environmental impacts of ski areas on the environment is deforestation and grading of slopes. In order to service a multitude of winter sport enthusiast, mountain slopes must be cleared of dense forest in order to make way for ski runs and lifts. With the ski industry in the US showing steady numbers (Satistica) resorts have to come up with new attractions to keep past patrons and attract new customers. One of the ways that they do this is by opening up new terrain, which increases the amount of deforestation damaging the local vegetation. Ski resorts essentially have two options in creating new terrain. First ...view middle of the document...

Often snow cats are operated at night causing light and sound pollution that disturbs wildlife such as the Canadian Lynx in Colorado an endangered species which has seen decreasing numbers in recent years. The wide use of snowcats also harm vegetation by compacting snow and leading to unexpected thawing patterns in spring, aiding soil erosion.

Artificial Snow:
The Use of Artificial snow is common among ski resorts as a way to increase the base snow and open for operations earlier. The use of artificial snow causes many problems, altering the snow pack can have adverse effects on the plant life causing many problems. The bigger issue though is the use of artificial chemicals quicken the freezing process. Once spring comes around these chemicals are then leached into the soil or carried along in the run off potentially harming the aquatic environment of alpine streams, rivers, and lakes. The water for snowmaking is drawn drawn in the late fall and early winter depleting the already low water systems when there is very little chance of them replenishing until spring. (scu)
The main concern with the use of artificial snow however is in how it effects the vegetation. Just like snowcats the use of artificial snow can cause a multitude of problems including the compaction of snow cover, the induction of soil frost, and the formation of ice layers and the delay it causes in plant development. (EBSCO)
The increase in the amount of snow and its compactness can alter and change the growing pattern of vegetation by shortening there growing season.
Transportation Emissions:
Transportation emissions from cars traveling to ski areas contribute to rising green house gas and global climate change. Which is of huge concern to the ski industry some of which are already feeling the impact, with sporadic snowstorms and a decreasing ski season. A study conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research have found that on average ski areas below 1,600m (5,250ft) have seen a 20% decrease in snow (Independent). But the issue of Transportation Emissions is wider than just the skiers driving to the slopes. Most ski resorts don’t gain much money from the ski hills them selves, but from the hotels, shops, and restaurants. In order to attract new and old clientele they focus heavily on the other attractions to bring in more people. The restaurants, can boast a wide variety of food this is a problem because it requires exotic and expensive items to be brought in from thousands of miles away. While the impact of one car driving to the slopes might not release too much CO2, when you account for the emissions from tourist flying/ driving in the emissions required to transport exotic food and other amenities the problem is greatly exacerbated.
Urban Sprawl:
With a desire to attract and accommodate more people, ski areas are building larger and larger hotels and more attractions to entice more people. The increasing amount of...

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