Marcus Honnecke: Reconsider night skiing
August 10, 2013
Steamboat Today's editors should reconsider their blanket endorsement of night skiing and the cavalier dismissal of the concomitant light pollution issues. Night skiing may make economic sense for a subset of individuals in Steamboat Springs and add to the coffers of the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., but the added light blight only will exacerbate Steamboat's downhill slide (no pun intended) toward tawdry urbanization.
Like it or not, Steamboat Springs now is the dominate source of light pollution in North central Colorado. Decisions made to increase Steamboat's already conspicuous sky glow affect not only the local citizens of the city of Steamboat but everyone living in the surrounding area. I doubt those of us living in the bordering Colorado and Wyoming counties will share much in the economic bonus of night skiing — what we certainly will share in is the continued degradation of our nighttime environment.
Light pollution has adverse economic effects for a much larger area then just "those living near the base of the ski area." Perhaps the Routt County commissioners and the National Forest Service also should have a say in the process. Should the night skiing scheme be authorized by the Planning Commission and the City Council? Then they should consider permanently eliminating some separate and unrelated outdoor lighting to compensate. For the public weal, it makes economic as well as environmental sense to cut down on Steamboat's excessive and gratuitous outdoor lighting anyhow.
Steamboat should lead the pack and actually decrease its sky glow and energy consumption. Decisions based on economic considerations alone will keep Steamboat heading down the slippery slope to become just another squalid city that happens to be located in the mountains.