Development In Ski Industry Essay

Development In Ski Industry Term paper

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The NH ski industry has been a part of my life since day one. I literally have grown up at the bottom of the slopes of Dartmouth Skiiway. I have been a racer all my life and have for years had my fair share of extensively traveling NH mountains and sampling all that the NH ski industry has had to offer. It was not until recently that I have come to understand that my beloved ski mountains are also well entrenched in environmental issues. Being a resource economics major I now realize that the NH ski industry is no longer the perfect wonderland it seemed to me as a child. Topics such as wildlife habitat, water quality and stream health, air pollution and much more are now all directly impacted by the industry. No longer can lifts be built and new larger, faster snowmaking devices be used without first giving a lot of thoughts to the environmental impacts that may occur. Yet the industry is always expanding and looking for new and different ways to attract more and more people. These expansions have many issues to talk of but the one I would like to focus on is the development of real-estate at the resorts. The process of building huge complexes to house the throngs of people that year after year come back for visits. Issues such as water use and air pollution are all very important, and whole papers could be devoted to those topics. Being a native New Englander it is not so much the new trails being built or the sophisticated snow making systems that are being created that has caught my eye as much as the developmental sprawl that seems to be overtaking NH resorts. I belive that most ski areas try to do right by the environment, and use the best available technology to keep the industry environmentally friendly. Developmental sprawl is another thing, most of the new condos and resort real estate is being created on private lands which the industry has little control over. This sort of strip development can lead to housing inflation, traffic congestion, and poses many problems for the social and economic infrastructure of the towns it effects. Many "…ski resorts are no longer the 800-pound gorilla threatening mountain valleys. Rather, the villan of rampant commercial over-development is bigger and more complex: thousands of people moving to the mountains for reasons additional to skiing. In a few towns, skiing is no longer the engine of growth, but is becoming a mere amenity like golf." (http:www.wildwilderness.org/wi/skiarea.htm) To me this is what may begin to lead to the decline of the industry. No longer will the NH ski industry offer the homely mountain feeling it always has had if trends continue the way they are. Developmental sprawl is something almost every American has witnessed in their life. If there is an attraction, whether its recreation or the weather pretty much almost anything, people will begin to show up and alter the social and economic life that is already established in the area. Along with the hoards of people that come to live or buy condos at NH ski areas comes their SUV's, their waste, and a demand for expansion among other impacts. As the mountain grows so to does the area around it. Loon Mountain is a great example, they began a process in the mid-eighties to begin an expansion that included 30 trails and 8 lifts. Now after years of litigation, and public hearings they are only asking for 6 trails and 1 lift. The impact that would be felt by the expansion originally asked for would have been tremendous, an expansion of that proportion would have brought thousands of more people to the area. Housing demands would have sky rocketed, traffic would be astronomical, and development in the loon mountain area would have been booming. Thought to wildlife habitat and pollution control would have probably been tossed aside as the corporations would have reaped the rewards of their new found tourist destination. The current expansion is more realistic, sure it may attract a few more people but overall the area will not have to change all that much. The increased crowds will not cause a tremendous change in development, and any environmental impacts that occur will be on a scale that could be corrected if need be. Most of all the Loon Mountain area can still offer the quaint NH experience that I belive represents the NH ski industry. National Forrest Lands play a huge role in the NH ski industry. Much of the prime skiing terrain in the state lies on National Forrest Land, mainly the White Mountains. "When the Forrest Service approves ski slopes near private land, the value of the private land jumps. Looking at ski lifts that service mediocre slopes near vacation homes,…environmentalists derisively call them "real estate lifts."(http://www.wildwilderness.org/wi/skiarea.htm) This needs to play into the minds of the Forrest Service when they designate land for ski industry use. They are not only opening up an area for recreation but they are causing property values to
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