Protect Our Winters (POW) has released a new report today about the impact climate change is having on the snow sports industry.

The Economic Contributions of Winter Sports in a Changing Climate is an update to POW’s 2012 analysis with the National Resources Defense Council.

The press release for the study sums up their findings in the very first sentence: “Climate change is impacting both the duration of winter and the accumulation and quality of snow, posing a significant risk to winter sports, American jobs and the economy.”

POW founder and legendary snowboarder Jeremy Jones touched upon this reframing of climate change as a threat to American jobs in an op-ed for The New York Times earlier this month.

Alaska. Photo: Courtesy of Protect Our Winters

“Skiers and snowboarders are seeing climate change happen right before our eyes in the mountains as winter seasons shorten and snow lines rise," Jones said in a press release announcing the study. “While scientific data reinforces what we are witnessing in the mountains, this study confirms what we are experiencing in our towns, where we watch low snow years shut down businesses, as friends and neighbors lose their jobs. Now is the time for athletes, snow lovers and folks who care about American jobs to come together to demand that our politicians take climate action on a national and global level.”

Authored by Dr. Rebecca Hill of Colorado State University, some of the more significant findings within the study are as follows:

– In the winter season of 2015–2016, more than 20 million people participated in downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling, with a total of 52.8 million skiing and snowboarding days, and 11.6 million snowmobiling days.

– These snowboarders, skiers and snowmobilers added an estimated $20.3 billion in economic value to the U.S. economy, through spending at ski resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, grocery stores and gas stations.

– While skier visits averaged 55.4 million nationally between 2001 and 2016, skier visits during the five highest snow years were 3.8 million higher than the 2001-2016 average and skier visits were 5.5 million lower than average during the five lowest snow years.

– Low snow years have negative impacts on the economy. The increased skier participation levels in high snow years meant an extra $692.9 million in value added and 11,800 extra jobs compared to the 2001–2016 average. In low snow years, reduced participation decreased value added by over $1 billion and cost 17,400 jobs compared to an average season.

As Jones mentioned, these stark numbers merely support the scientific data that climate change is impacting not only our environment but also our economies themselves. POW hopes that this study is a springboard to enact more action to combat climate change.

Check out the full report from POW.

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