Avon, Vail sign I Am Pro Snow petition
EAGLE COUNTY — The towns of Vail and Avon are among some of the recent communities, companies and individuals in the ski industry who have signed on to an open letter to world leaders asking for meaningful action on climate change.
The I Am Pro Snow letter, spearheaded by Al Gore’s Climate Change Reality Project, garners the support of the ski and snowboard community and will be presented to leaders at the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 21st Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris (COP21) in December.
‘FIRST STEPS TO CHANGE’
The massive climate change conference happens every four years, and many environmentalists see it as a major chance to set some worldwide goals for sustainability. The 2012 conference in Copenhagen failed to produce much meaningful change and was a disappointment to environmental proponents, Climate Change Reality Project organizers said.
“The end goal of the letter is to have so many signatories that it does raise an eyebrow and draw attention from world leaders,” said Nat Segal, a professional freeride skier and athlete ambassador for the campaign. “Public opinion really matters in these matters of politics. This is the ski public raising their voices — and that includes some very influential people — and will hopefully help bring about the first steps to change.”
SUPPORTING THE CAUSE
Besides Vail and Avon, other signatories include Park City, Utah; Bend, Oregon; Whistler, B.C.; and Olympic ski racers Kaylin Richardson and Steven Nyman.
“We see the signing of the letter as supporting the conversation about global climate change,” said Avon Mayor Jennie Fancher. “It’s definitely something that we are aware of as an area that has ski resorts. There have been years lately where snow was practically nonexistent. People are seeing how it’s affecting them in real life.”
She said it can be difficult to address such a large issue, especially one that has divided people politically and socially. She added that the towns try to do their part by being environmentally conscious. She pointed to the town of Vail’s recent ban on plastic bags and said she wouldn’t be surprised if Avon considered something similar in the future.
“I think the conversation is there about climate change, but people aren’t exactly sure what to do about it. We just want to lend our support for the issue,” Fancher said.
MOUNTAIN TOWNS AT FOREFRONT
Segal, who is based in Australia, said that the ski and snowboard industry and people who live in mountain towns should be on the forefront of calling for change.
“People in the industry and who live in the mountains are quickly aware of when things start to change because you live in the environment,” she said. “In the last few years, I’ve seen it raining (at ski areas) where it never rains in the winter. I think there are people who are environmentalists who have been involved for a long time, but now a broader audience is paying attention. When you’re faced with that many abnormal events every six months at resorts, it’s hard to ignore it.”
Read the I Am Pro Snow letter and find out more about the Road to Paris campaign at http://www.climaterealityproject.org/pro-snow.
Assistant Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.