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A continuous stream of snowfall in the Vail Valley this week has pushed Vail’s seasonal snowfall total to well over 200 inches (213 to be precise), and forecasters are calling for still more snow through the upcoming Presidents’ Day weekend of Feb. 16-18.
This is good news for the local ski conditions right now, obviously, and even better news for the snowpack, stream flows and overall forest health of Eagle County. Let’s hope our currently slightly above-average snowpack will translate to reduced wildfire danger this summer.
Still, big picture, the planet is warming (NOAA and NASA just announced 2018 was the fourth hottest on record) and we all need to figure out how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate against the worst impacts of climate change, including our inefficient buildings.
To that end, the Vail Valley Foundation’s Tom Boyd writes in today’s Vail Daily about relatively inexpensive ways to assess and then fix energy leaks in your home – techniques that will save you money and help the Eagle County Climate Action Collaborative get to its goal of a county-wide greenhouse gas reduction of 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050.
Former coworkers at the now-defunct Vail Trail, Boyd and I are back in print together for the first time in many years as I did a story for today’s Daily in which I checked in with local DACA recipients about the ongoing border-wall, government-funding debate.
President Donald Trump didn’t mention DACA or the shutdown in Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, and he also failed to talk about climate change – a huge issue for Colorado voters. Fortunately, there’s a lot happening on that front at both the state and local level.
Besides the Climate Action Collaborative, Minturn Mayor Matt Scherr was just named by a Democratic vacancy committee as the Eagle County commissioner who will replace Jill Ryan later this month. Ryan is leaving to head up the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
From 2004 to 2012, Scherr headed up the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability. Walking Mountains Science Center founder and key Climate Action Collaborative proponent Kim Langmaid, also a Vail Town Council member, made the top three in the commissioner vote, with Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley development director Elyse Howard finishing second.
That’s an encouraging list of candidates focused in on climate change, sustainability and housing issues facing Eagle County.
Other local leaders making headlines include former Vail Town Council member Kerry Donovan – now a Democratic state senator – who has her own solid record on energy and climate issues. She’s also leading the charge to enshrine Colorado’s original constitution in a permanent display at the state capitol in Denver.
And it’s not as if there’s absolutely no positive news on the environment front at the federal level. The congressman who represents the Vail Valley in Washington, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, recently teamed up with Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet to introduce the CORE Act – a massive federal lands preservation bill that could be a game-changer if Dems wrestle back control of the White House and Senate in 2020.
Last weekend, at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show in Denver, the Outdoor Industry Association announced its “100 percent support of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.” And Bennet joined Republicans in reintroducing legislation to renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which uses offshore drilling fees to protect access to parks, rivers, forests and public lands. And then there was today’s (Thursday) announcement of a more fleshed-out Green New Deal proposal by prominent Democrats.
Finally, on the topic of ski towns and the ski industry in the greater context of combating climate change, check out this analysis by former Powder Magazine features editor Porter Fox in The New York Times. It includes a rather scathing callout to Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, who represents many of the ski towns on Colorado’s Western Slope but is not a big proponent of combating human-caused global warming.