Our View: Vail Mountain snowmaking expansion will aid more than terrain | VailDaily.com

Our View: Vail Mountain snowmaking expansion will aid more than terrain

Vail Daily Editorial Board

Some here in the high country have long maintained that skiing is too big a business to leave it to the whims of Mother Nature.

That quip came from the days long ago when resorts started investing in new and better grooming for ski slopes. But even the best grooming can only do so much in scant snow years.

That’s why it’s good news that the U.S. Forest Service recently approved a Vail Resorts proposal to expand its snowmaking capacity on Vail Mountain. When the multi-year project is complete, nearly 25 percent of the mountain’s skiable terrain will be covered by snowmaking. That includes upper parts of the mountain accessible via Gondola One out of Vail Village.

That’s good news for Vail Village business owners, who in some years look longingly west down Meadow Drive toward Lionshead Village, watching early-season skiers flock to the Eagle Bahn Gondola there.

But the expanded snowmaking is good news in other ways.

Perhaps at the top of the list is the diversity of terrain the expansion will make available in the season’s first weeks.

That could provide a big boost to both the resort and the town. Absent abundant snowfall years, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are often a relatively soft spot in the ski season. More available terrain will help bring more people to Vail. That means people working at shops and restaurants have a better chance of putting in more hours during those weeks. More stable paychecks help both individuals and the community at large.

Somewhat hidden in the news of the snowmaking expansion is the foresight shown years ago by resort executives. Snowmaking requires water, of course, and pretty good amounts of it. Company officials say they hold water rights that will allow the full expansion without seeking new supplies.

The western U.S. has been in a drought cycle for roughly 20 years. And ski areas need to investigate ways to adapt to a changing climate.

Boosting snowmaking at Vail is good news in a host of ways. And, given our valley economy, we need to be able to help Mother Nature in any way we can.

The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Ad Director Holli Snider, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.