Why Do We Need Snow?
Let It Snow: As the shortest month of the year, February can seem to linger the longest, thanks to its position near the close of a sometimes-brutal season, when cramped legs beg for stretching, and hibernation gives way to spring fever. Snowy roads, bitter temperatures, and abbreviated daylight induce claustrophobia. As we await warmer days, it’s good to remember that, in terms of the state’s economy, there’s no business like snow business, and — on top of the financial benefits — ice and snow are essential to Michigan’s environment.
By Mark Kurlyandchik
Some reasons to love the flakes:
- Snow is an excellent insulator. It can raise ground temperatures by several degrees, preventing damage to tree roots and flower bulbs.
- Snow provides needed moisture to plants — even dormant ones — throughout the winter months.
- Ice that forms over shallow Great Lakes waters protects whitefish eggs, bolstering Michigan’s fishing industry and helping ensure that the flaky staple remains on menus across the state.
- Algae, a foundation for all life in the lakes, benefits from ice cover, too. Sunlight shining through clear ice promotes algae growth near the surface.
- Michigan has 42 ski areas, with about 200 chairlifts, 840 runs, and hundreds of miles of cross-country ski trails.
- Ice along shorelines helps prevent wetland and coastal erosion.
- Ice cover on the Great Lakes reduces evaporation, which means higher water levels in the spring and the ability for ships to carry more cargo.
- Skiing accounts for about $120 million of the $5-billion spent annually on tourism in Michigan.
- Michigan has more registered snowmobiles on its trails — about 200,000 — than any other state.
- Michigan’s economy directly benefits from almost $240 million in annual spending on snowmobile trips and equipment. Roughly $6 million a year is generated in state and federal fuel taxes on snowmobiles.
- The snowmobiling industry supports about 4,000 Michigan jobs.