This past winter Southern Idaho experienced one of its snowiest and coldest on record. So we can’t be blamed for wanting to look ahead into the summer. But one organization wants us to look back again.
The group, based in Colorado, is called Protect Our Winters, and they held their first event in Boise this spring when they joined the climate march at the state capitol. The organization was founded by Jeremy Jones, a professional snowboarder, who was disappointed by deteriorating snow conditions worldwide. In 2007 he set out to give a donation to combat global warming, but he couldn’t find the right nonprofit.
According to spokesperson Lindsay Bourgoine, Jones started Protect Our Winters "as a platform to really engage with outdoor enthusiasts over winter and our passion for winter, from skiing to snowboarding, pretty much every outdoor activity relies on heavy snow pack, when we think about fly-fishing, we think about trout habitat and how we need cold streams."
Bourgoine admits her boss could have donated to the Sierra Club, but he wanted to meet his people where they were: Out shreddin’ the gnar.
"And I think," she continues, "it was a way to take a really complicated, complex issue that’s become extremely politicized in our world today and take that down a notch. And talk about it in terms of emotion and passion. 'Doesn’t winter look different than it did when you were a kid?' Instead of starting to talk about the statistics of Republicans and Democrats and how people feel one way or the other. It’s a way to kind of diffuse that."
Bourgoine was speaking on the day the Trump administration announced it was going to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accords.
"We were extremely disappointed in that decision," she says. The group had been pushing the hashtag #KeepParis for the past several months on Twitter.
But the organization also has a contradictory relationship with the President, who gave them a $5,000 donation more than two years ago. Bourgoine explains that professional athletes associated with the group appeared on Donald Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice.”
"One of the athletes, (snowboarder) Jamie Anderson was on Donald Trump's show," says Bourgoine. "And when he fired her, he asked what he could do for her. And she asked that he would donate to Protect Our Winters."
Bourgoine says despite Trump donating to an advocacy group fighting climate change, she claims he's "obviously not in support of our mission, by any means."
The group founded by a snowboarder is concerned with letting other fans of outdoor sports know about the changing climate and are working with scientists to determine how quickly snow might vanish in the American West.
Find Tom Michael on Twitter @tom2michael
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