I am a professional skier and outdoor adventurer. I am proud to call Utah home and I love this state for so many reasons: the snow, mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, beautiful red rock, and, most of all, the people who live here. In my job, I encourage people to come here, to visit and experience the natural wonders of our state. Bur our poor air quality is affecting our vibrant tourism and outdoor industries. I’ve been part of the battle for clean air in Utah for almost a decade, and it’s disheartening to see that despite our efforts, the air quality doesn’t seem to be getting better. Once, when I wrote about a clean air rally on social media, one of my followers responded, “to be honest, after a ski trip to Alta/Snowbird, the main reason why I will not return is this disgusting smog in Salt Lake City.”
The air is not only dampening people’s respect for Utah and their travel plans here, it’s endangering our health. Our wealth depends on our health and the health of our communities and our planet. Clean air is good for business. We need to clean up the air to keep Utah’s $12.2 billion dollar outdoor recreation industry vibrant and growing! We can do it. To say we can’t fix this problem is insulting to our ingenuity as human beings in this hardworking Beehive State. We can and must adapt and overcome. We must take personal responsibility, ride transit, carpool, bike, and walk more. We also need the support of the State. We need big business to take responsibility for their pollution. We need more funding for the Division of Air Quality, transit funding, electric vehicles, and walkable communities. We need updated building codes and stronger regulations on industry. There’s too much at stake. We must act swiftly and boldly, and act now!
Caroline Gleich is a Utah-based professional ski mountaineer, endurance athlete and environmental activist. Her goal is to inspire people to get outside, live a healthy active lifestyle and protect the places where we love to play. b. 1985