Empty chairlifts hurt more than just the ski resorts. Wallpaper stock photo.
Imagine if a manufacturing plant in a small community suddenly closed its doors. A majority of the local workforce would be without jobs and the economy would take a nosedive. This situation is currently unfolding in mountain towns throughout the U.S. Last week, nearly all the ski resorts in the country were forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was a decision that needed to happen for the well-being of thousands, but it will have its repercussions.
Ski resorts bring a value to our local and national economies, and the numbers speak for themselves. In a 2016 study examining expenditures on ski and snowmobile industries, researchers found that snow-related work supported 191,000 jobs, provided $6.9 billion in wages, and dumped $11.3 billion into the overall economy. That value has only increased in 2020, with Bloomberg estimating that skiing now brings about $55 billion to the nation’s economy. That’s a lot of dough, and it’s not just going to ski resorts. This money trickles into all parts of a mountain town’s community: hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, gear shops, gas stations, and heck, even the local hospitals.
So what does this mean in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic? Well, for one, 122 ski resorts still have to pay their annual leasing fees, which are about $50-million. Given that they’re currently generating no revenue, this may be difficult. Smaller mom and pop resorts could go under or be bought up by larger resort conglomerates.
Recognizing the billions of dollars that the ski industry brings to Colorado and the nation has prompted Senator Cory Gardner to plead to the United States Department of Agriculture to waive National Forest land fees. In his letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, he writes “historically, the month of March is the industry’s second-highest in revenue generation. Colorado Ski Country USA estimates that the 470 areas in the U.S. will suffer an economic loss of over $2 billion due to COVID-19.”
The USDA has yet to respond to Gardner’s request, but in the meantime here are a few things you can do to help your favorite mountain community:
Write to your state senator
If your favorite resort currently leases land from the national forest, send a letter or call to your senator to urge the USDA to waive leasing fees for the year. It’s a great way to kill time while being stuck at home.
Donate to your Favorite Mountain Town’s Foodbank
Can’t visit your favorite mountain town because you’re on lockdown? Send some love by donating the money you’d spend on gas or travel to a local foodbank. A lot of people are without jobs right now, so let’s make sure no one is going to bed hungry. Here are a few we were able to quickly find:
TRUCKEE, CA : https://sierracommunityhouse.org/
LAKE TAHOE, CA: http://foodbankedc.org/
STEVENS PASS, WA: https://uvmend.org/community-cupboard/support-cupboard
Support brick and mortar gear shops
Need to update a few pieces of gear? When this pandemic calms down, rather than buy online take that money and support your favorite small businesses, they'll be taking a big hit by being closed right now.
UPDATE: A rescue on Teton Pass's Taylor Mountain is currently still ongoing by Teton Search and Rescue after a slide was reported yesterday afternoon. TCSAR received a distress call at 3:20 p.m. on Wednesday, after two snowboarders triggered an avalanche on the south side of the mountain at about 2:45 p.m. A partner beacon search was unsuccessful, and TCSAR responded in full force to try and locate the presumably buried victim. The search was called off at dark, and rescuers are resuming
After closing access to the Tuckerman Ravine Headwall earlier this week, the Forest Service has made the tough decision to fully close Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines, as well as the Gulf of Slides area to all use. Individuals violating the closure may face a fine of up to $5000 and/or six months imprisonment, according to a press release from the Mt. Washington Avalanche Center. RELATED: Stay Stoked- Your Guide to TGR's Best Content According to the release, "The
On Tuesday evening, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake was recorded in Idaho, with an epicenter just north of Stanley in the Sawtooth Range. The earthquake occurred during a period of heavy snowfall and high winds, which had sent the avalanche danger to High. As a result of the quake, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center reported multiple large avalanches, including some from observers in Stanley that could hear them rumbling for up to a minute from town. RELATED: Now is Not the Time to "Try" Backcountry