U.N. Warming Report Not Worrying Skiers

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BOLTON, Vt., Dec. 5, 2003 (AP) -- A new report by the United Nations that says the world's ski areas will be hurt by global warming over the coming decades isn't putting much of a chill on the Vermont ski industry.

Snow squalls, rather than global warming, was evident at the Bolton Valley ski area on Thursday. Still, the report raised concerns.

"It's pretty scary," said Chris McLernon, 28, of Burlington. "It should worry anyone in Vermont, based on our economy."

The United Nations report, released Tuesday, that said the world's ski resorts are endangered because global warming within three decades will push consistent snow cover toward higher elevations, out of the reach of ski slopes, base lodges and ski villages.

Before anyone panics, Vermont's ski industry seems safe for now. Snowstorms and snowmaking are keeping the slopes covered.

"Temperatures are way below what is required to make snow," said Jay Peak President Bill Stenger. "If anybody is capable of surviving global warming, it's Jay Peak." The Northeast Kingdom mountain is at Vermont's coldest, most northern location, and winter snowstorms regularly sweep the resort, he said.

The United Nations report, which focused on the European Alps, said ski areas remain cold enough to ensure snow cover if their altitude is above 4,265 feet. All of Vermont's ski trails are below that altitude but usually have consistent winter snow cover thanks to the state's northern location.

However, the report warns that the reliable snow will be found only above 4,900 feet in 30 years.

Bo Garland, 19, a Bolton employee using his free time to snowboard on the mountain Thursday, decried gas-guzzling cars and their owners. He said they threaten a winter sports industry he wants to remain involved with for the rest of his life.

"There's way too many SUVs, way too many pickup trucks," Garland said. Most scientists say the burning of fossil fuel is accumulating gases such as carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere. The gases trap the sun's heat, warming the planet, scientists say.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press