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Weather and Air Quality Drive the Winter Use of Utah’s Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons

Hongchao Zhang () and Jordan W. Smith ()
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Hongchao Zhang: Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism and Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
Jordan W. Smith: Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism and Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 10, 1-12

Abstract: Winter outdoor recreation opportunities in Utah are directly impacted by the effects of climate change and deteriorating air quality. We examine the influences of daily weather conditions and air quality on winter use of two prominent Utah canyons located just outside Salt Lake City-Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Daily weather data were collected both within the canyons and in Salt Lake City; daily air quality data were collected for just Salt Lake City. We hypothesized that desirable weather within the canyons (i.e., cooler temperatures, more snowfall, and deeper snow depths) serves as a “pull” factor, positively influencing the volume of traffic. We also hypothesized that poor air quality within the city acts as a “push” factor on individuals’ travel behavior, this too would positively influence the volume of traffic up the canyons. We used a panel time-series regression model to determine the influence of both these “push” and “pull” factors on use of the canyons during the winter months. Our results revealed that, as expected, cooler temperatures and greater amounts of snow in the canyons, as well as poorer air quality in the city, have a positive and significant influence on winter canyon use. These findings suggest that warmer winter temperatures, as well as deteriorating air quality in the city, may have substantial impacts on Utah’s outdoor recreation economy.

Keywords: outdoor recreation; climate change; air quality; skiing; snowboarding (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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