Big Mountain Ski Resort Joins Whitefish’s Climate Efforts


Whitefish Mountain Resort on Big Mountain has joined the city and its promotional partners in raising awareness of climate change through a collaboration with Protect Our Winters (POW), the organization launched 15 years ago by professionals to advance local initiatives on climate change.

According to the announcement made by Explore Whitefish and Whitefish Mountain Resort, the multi-year partnership with POW is designed to raise awareness of climate change, develop solutions to reduce emissions and provide residents with the tools they need to preserve their way of life and their livelihoods from a warming. planet.

Established by the Town of Whitefish in 2006, Explore Whitefish is the officially designated organization responsible for destination marketing and stewardship of Whitefish, also known as the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau. Whitefish Mountain Resort was founded in 1947 as Big Mountain Ski Resort and has operated continuously as an independent ski resort owned by Winter Sports Inc. for nearly 75 years. In 2018, the Town of Whitefish adopted the Whitefish Climate Action Plan, with the overall goal of reducing emissions from facilities in the town by 26% by 2025, using 2016 emissions as a baseline.

Through the POW Alliance, the partnership will work closely with Climate Smart Glacier Country and the Whitefish Climate Action Plan Standing Committee to help spur community discussions, education and increased action to reduce climate change. emissions, including support for local solar projects. Visitors will be able to contribute to future clean energy initiatives, as well as other actions like supporting the replanting of whitebark pine in the Whitefish Range, an endangered species in the high mountains affected by global warming climatic. Whitefish Mountain Resort works closely with the US Forest Service and has been touted as one of the most whitebark-friendly ski resorts in North America.

“Our way of life in Whitefish is at risk unless more action is taken to address climate change,” said Dylan Boyle, executive director of Explore Whitefish. “With this partnership, we can contribute to the work to continue to make climate a priority for residents and visitors and be part of an important cultural shift. This partnership will help identify more solutions locally and advocate for their adoption. It may not change the whole world, but it will give us a better chance of saving winter in Whitefish for generations to come.

Fifteen years ago, professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones saw the mountains around him, the snowpack and the seasons changing rapidly. In 2007, he founded POW to help outdoor enthusiasts protect the places and lifestyles they love from climate change.

“From smoky summers to changing and less regular winter seasons, mountain communities like Whitefish are seeing the effects of global warming firsthand,” according to a statement from Jones. “The local community and people from across the country who enjoy Whitefish are passionate about the outdoors, no matter where they are on the political spectrum. And by voting for climate champions and advocating for programs and policies that will slow global warming, we all have an important role to play in protecting our outdoor lifestyle and, in many cases, our lives as well. our livelihoods. We are grateful for the Whitefish community’s partnership with POW and look forward to joint efforts on climate solutions and advocacy efforts.

The POW community is made up of outdoor athletes, scientists, brands and hundreds of thousands of people. In the United States, there are 50 million people who make up what POW calls the Outdoor State, people who regularly recreate outdoors.

“Together, they have the ability to make significant strides in advancing cross-partisan policies designed to protect what they have in common: a love of the outdoors,” Jones added.

According to Nick Polumbus, President and CEO of Whitefish Mountain Resort, there is a renewed sense of urgency for stakeholders, including those investing in the winter sports industry and the health of the planet.

“During my time in this industry, I’ve seen the weather become more unsettled and I’ve seen the start and end of our seasons become more tenuous and difficult,” Polumbus said. “This season is a good example of that. Although the issue of climate change can be seen as a partisan or political issue, it is evolving rapidly — it is a people issue. Climate change will continue to shorten the winter season and make it harder to play the sports we love. Why wouldn’t we want to reverse this trend and strive to make things more efficient and cleaner? »

A new study reports that in about 35 to 60 years, mountain states should be nearly snow-free for years if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked and climate change does not slow. The Rocky Mountains are warming twice as fast as the global average, and Montana’s glaciers are expected to disappear soon. If global emissions stay on the same trajectory, 20 of the 21 destinations that have previously hosted the Winter Olympics will not be viable for safe and fair competition by the end of the century.

“The Town of Whitefish has made climate change mitigation a priority,” said Mayor John Muhlfeld. “We welcome this partnership as we continue our community’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy and advocate for the protection of our environment.

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