The Effects of Climate Change on the Downhill Skiing and Recreational Fishing Economy in the Crown of the Continent

This report focuses on the Montana portion of the "Crown of the Continent" region, the home of Glacier National Park and extensive protected wilderness areas where recreational fishing and downhill skiing have have contributed significantly to population and job growth. The impacts of climate change on these industries are analyzed, which are susceptible to changes in temperature, snowpack, and the timing of precipitation.

After a brief overview of the land, people, and economy of the Crown region, this report proceeds to a more in-depth review of the role of downhill skiing and recreational fishing in the region. Estimates of the economic impact of the skiing industry were developed for each of the Montana counties of: Flathead, Glacier, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Pondera, Powell and Teton. For the purpose of assessing the potential economic impact of climate change on fishing in the crown, three distinct fishing regions are identified, each unique in fishing character, economic opportunities, and resource challenges - including the Flathead Drainage, the Blackfoot, and the Rocky Mountain Front. 

The report concludes by offering recommendations for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Some steps the ski industry could take, for example, include increasing energy and snowmaking efficiency, as well as offering diverse activities that are less subject to variations in snow conditions. For the Crown’s recreational fishing industry, restoring bull and cutthroat trout in the Flathead drainage and the upper Blackfoot, for example, will lead to significant economic opportunities.

For the region overall, future activities such as restoration - including removing diversions on rivers, restoring forest health, controlling noxious weeds, and limiting non-native fish - will help mitigate the impacts of climate change while improving the opportunity for the region’s economy to adapt and thrive.


Publication Date: January 2011

Related Organizations:


  • Business
  • Fish and fisheries
  • Land management and conservation
  • Tourism and recreation

Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment

States Affected:


  • Economic
  • Air temperature
  • Precipitation changes

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