Avalanche center shifting to spring schedule | SummitDaily.com

Avalanche center shifting to spring schedule

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Funding for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center appears to be on stable ground for now, but could face threats from state budget cuts and from a decline in charitable giving.

“The real thing I’m worried about is donations,” said director Ethan Greene. “If people stop making those $30 to $100 donations, it could have a big impact,” he said.

“But this year we’re doing well. We won’t have to dip into our reserves,” Greene said.

Funding for the center comes from a variety of sources, including state funds allocated from oil and gas drilling taxes. Grants are are also important, as are contributions from ski resorts, private individuals and local governments.

Funding from the oil and gas severance tax fund appears stable, but in a year when the State Legislature is looking hard at every penny, nothing is sacred.

Greene said that, as local governments and other entities experience declines in sales tax revenue, they may have to consider cutting their contributions to the avalanche center.

He cited the homeowners association in Telluride Mountain Village as an example, saying that the organization has given generously in the past., But facing its own budget crunch, the group had to cut the amount it gave to the center.

He doesn’t expect any of the funding sources to dry up completely, but said that, if each of them cuts their share by 10 percent, it could add up to a big deficit.

“It’s a patchwork quilt of funding,” Greene said, explaining how all the pieces are important.

The center faced a $25,000 hole early this season, but grassroots supporters stepped forward in a big way to make up the deficit with a Breckenridge fundraiser. Another important event, Loveland’s Corn Harvest, is coming up April 25. Get more information at http://www.cornharvest.org/.

The current budget will enable the center to keep offering late-season forecasts, during the peak of the backcountry ski season. Starting April 19, the forecast will be issued once a day through the end of April.

After that, the forecast will be updated out of the Breckenridge office three times per week. Check the center’s web site for details at http://avalanche.state.co.us/index.php.

Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.

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