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New Year...Old Problem!

Downtown Silverton, Colorado

Well friends, it is almost 2019 here in the Great Southwest and we are entering what appears to be an all too familiar problem. What is this lingering issue, you ask. One word. Drought. Well, actually two words. Sustained Drought. Scientists at Colorado State University in Fort Collins published their most recent climate report a few days ago. Despite a colder than normal December, the San Juan Mountains have not seen any appreciable snowfall, placing the region in the "extreme" or "exceptional" range depending on which county you are referencing. Farther south in New Mexico, unseasonably mild temperatures have placed the state in a similar predicament.

Although this is the time of year when ski vacations are all the rage here, it is important to keep statistics of this sort in mind. Our local ski resorts (Wolf Creek and Purgatory) are seeing varying degrees of precipitation--with Wolf Creek getting their traditional long, sustained storms that dump massive amounts of snow at a time (which have resulted in amazing skiing thus far) while Purgatory (which is less than 75 miles away) is lagging behind, seeing a less robust amount of snow thus far this ski season in comparison. Thankfully, we still have quite a bit of winter ahead of us, but the question remains--will it be enough to stave off yet another year of drought, decreased snowpack, and increased fire danger.

In addition to the drought conditions that we experience atmospherically, there is also the very tangible aspect of what this lack of precipitation is doing to our outdoor recreation and hospitality industries. Where there is no snow, there are no patrons skiing. When there are no patrons, there is no business being conducted. No money exchanges hands, and no economic growth is realized within a wide range within the community. It is sometimes implied how much mountain towns and ski communities rely on tourist activity, but it cannot be emphasized enough that there is an in-fact correlation between the environmental health of our communities and the fiscal/financial impacts that come from them. How important is this relationship? So important that if one doesn't perform well, it has detrimental impacts in ways that one wouldn't even imagine. Case in point--there was so little snow last year in New Mexico that it had an unforeseen (and unfortunate) result for the University of New Mexico's ski teams. An absence of snow meant that they were unable to practice skiing in and around Albuquerque for a significant portion of their season.

So although we may have wintery thoughts of snow and hot cocoa in our heads this time of year, it's key to remember that it's also make or break time for our winter--and summer--recreational industries.

We wish you and yours an abundantly prosperous 2019. Happy New Year, and we look forward to engaging with you even more in the upcoming year.

The RSE Team

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