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Northern Michigan ski industry sounds off on new report citing climate change for loss of billions

CADILLAC — Northern Michigan’s ski industry reacts to a new report showing that US ski businesses have lost billions over the years because of climate change.

The Associated Press is reporting about a new study, showing that US ski areas have lost $5 billion from 2000 to 2019.

The report claims it’s a result of human caused climate change and could lose around $1 billion every year in the 2050s depending on how much emissions are reduced.


Mickey MacWilliams, president of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association or MSIA, said statewide the industry suffered from significant losses estimated at $27 million over the Christmas holidays.

“A lot of that has to do with people coming up North for ski vacations or lack of doing that. It’s happening in northern Michigan, in particularly in the Upper Peninsula,” said MacWilliams.

At Crystal Mountain Resort in Benzie County, the CEO John Melcher said business has been a down a little but there’s plenty of snow.

“We’ve got a very robust snowmaking system to help us when Mother Nature is not providing the natural snow. And we’ve also got a year-round business that we’ve built out,” said Melcher.


Over at Boyne Mountain Resort, marketing director, Kari Roder said it’s impacted them a bit as well, but people are still coming out.

“We have zip lining. We have SkyBridge Michigan. We have Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark. Outdoor, heated pools. People still are having that family trip coming up, enjoying themselves,” said Roder.

MacWilliams said the MSIA has been working hard to encourage ski areas to become more sustainable but many Northern Michigan ski areas are already on it.

“Crystal Mountain and Boyne and quite a few others up in the northern part of the state started as ski areas. But over the years, realized that diversification is really, really important because being so extremely weather dependent is not a great position to be in,” said MacWilliams.


Trevor Tkach, president and CEO of Traverse City Tourism said it was a better ski season last year and it definitely impacts other businesses in the area.

“If that group of customers doesn’t come north to take part in those types of activities, they’re not going to go to the restaurants, they’re not going to shop downtown, they’re not going to do all the other things,” said Tkach.

MacWilliams said the MSIA has been talking to lawmakers about the effects of climate change and support legislation to reduce the impact.

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