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Climate change confronts Canadian resort

Allen Best

BANFF, Alberta ” Nobody in Banff seems to doubt that climate change is occurring. And the prevailing attitude seems to be that the emissions of greenhouse gases that are at least partly responsible for the change must be curbed.

But the broader message now being heard in the Banff tourism community is the need to adapt to global warming.

“Climate change represents both risk and opportunity,” Daniel Scott, a professor of geography at the University of Waterloo, recently told community leaders. “There will be winners and there will be losers.”



He thinks Banff can gain. While ski season will be shorter, Banff will have fewer competitors. The three ski areas inside Banff National Park are all at about 5,000 feet in elevation.

Although he sees negligible impacts until midway through the 21st century, he urges investment in snowmaking equipment and other adaptations. He also sees higher temperatures forcing ski areas and golf courses to import more water.



National park administrators strictly restrict how much water can be withdrawn from creeks for snowmaking. However, federal environmental officials are looking at development criteria for potentially greater withdrawals.

Ian Syme, chief of resources conservation for Parks Canada, which administers Banff, said he foresees 20 years in which good science must be developed for determining how much water can be withdrawn without damaging the rivers.

But the Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that warming is well underway. Winters are warmer and total annual snowfalls recorded in the last 35 years have dropped 40 percent in Banff.



But it’s really cold in Colorado

FRASER, Colo. ” A good number of people in Fraser are wondering where all this talk about global warming came from.

The town, once called the “Icebox of the Nation,’ has seen 44 below, according to unofficial but widespread readings, and it was still below zero on a recent December morning.

To long-time resident Kirk Klancke, it’s just like the “good, old days” of 30 to 40 years ago.

“We’re having a really good winter,” he told Mountain Town News. “We have tons of snow and lots of cold to preserve it. We went a couple of weeks without seeing the stripes on the highway.”

The Winter Park ski area reported 142 inches of snow midway through December, the most snowfall since a phenomenal streak of 41 straight days of snow that was recorded in 1983.

Vail, Colorado


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