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Managing drought in mountain resort communities: Colorado's experiences

Olga V. Wilhelmi (Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Michael J. Hayes (National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)
Deborah S.K. Thomas (Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 7 November 2008




This paper aims to investigate drought impacts and vulnerabilities specific to mountain resort communities and the implications for the tourism industry, in order to derive a set of recommendations for reducing drought vulnerability of this economic sector.


This article presents the results from a case study conducted in Colorado, USA, mountain communities evaluating the multi‐year drought that culminated in 2002. Using qualitative research methods, a series of interviews were conducted to garner the experiences of state and local tourism officials, ski resort representatives, and environmental, municipal and agricultural organizations.


This study finds that drought alone was not responsible for creating the variety of direct and secondary impacts on Colorado resort communities. The paper highlights the importance of water resources to the economic wellbeing of resort communities and recognizes the critical roles of communication, planning, media and public perception during a drought.


Societal vulnerability in mountain resort communities in relation to drought has rarely been addressed in the literature. The study provides specific recommendations to the resort managers and tourism officials for mitigating drought impacts of, and reducing resort communities' vulnerability to, drought.



Wilhelmi, O.V., Hayes, M.J. and Thomas, D.S.K. (2008), "Managing drought in mountain resort communities: Colorado's experiences", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 17 No. 5, pp. 672-680.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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