The Effects of Climate Change on Downhill Skiing and Recreational Fishing in the Crown of the ContinentBy:
Published: January 20, 2012
The Crown of the Continent region’s diverse habitats, vast expanses of public lands, and connections to other wild lands should make the region more likely to successfully respond to the changing climate.
In this report, we studied the possible effects of climate change on two “snow-pack” dependent sectors of the economy – downhill skiing and recreational fishing. These sectors are very likely to be negatively affected by climate change, which in this region includes rising temperatures, more rain, and less moisture stored in snowpack. These sectors are harbingers of potential impacts on other sectors—such as irrigated agriculture and forestry—that are vulnerable to changes in snowpack, river flows, and temperature.
Through a combination of quantitative techniques (economic impact analysis) and qualitative methods (interviews), an interesting story unfolds on the impacts of climate change, and how these industries will need to adapt in order to survive. We conclude the report with a number of management recommendations.
For the ski industry, adapting to changing opportunities to provide quality visitor experiences throughout the year is especially important. The industry initially has responded to climate change by looking to increase energy and snowmaking efficiency in order to increase reliable snow coverage, minimize their carbon footprint, and reduce operations costs. Some ski areas are considering—and others have already pursued—more diverse activities that are less subject to variations in snow conditions. These include snowshoeing, tubing runs, and terrain parks in winter; and mountain biking, zip lines, festivals, and other events in summer.
For the Crown’s recreational fishing industry, offering unique chances to catch trout, and particularly native trout, is of primary importance. Restoring bull and cutthroat trout in the Flathead drainage and the upper Blackfoot, for example, will lead to significant economic opportunities.
The majority of jobs in the region and nearly all the population and income growth over the past 30 years are closely linked to the natural amenities and the natural resources of the Crown. Future activities such as restoration—including removing diversions on rivers, restoring forest health, controlling noxious weeds, and limiting non-native fish—will help mitigate the impacts of climate change while improving the opportunity for the region’s economy to adapt and thrive.
Number of Pages
Recommended Document Citation
Headwater Economics. (2012). The effects of climate change on downhill skiing and recreational fishing in the Crown of the Continent. Bozeman, MT. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/virtual-library/effects-climate-change-downhill-ski...