Last Thursday, Bill S.382, a bipartisan bill cosponsored by Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and John Barrasso (R-WY), was sent to the full Senate for consideration. This new bill concerning ski resorts that operate in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, would amend the current Act, the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986, to allow more activities unrelated to skiing and snowboarding.
It seems even in this age of the Northstar Mountain Biking Park, Squaw’s many off-season activities at High Camp, and the ever present chairlift/gondola scenic rides common at ski resorts across the country in summer, ski resorts have not been able to fully utilize their current footprints in the same manner as they do in winter.
Why? It makes so much sense. A ski resort is built. The environment is manipulated for recreational means in the winter months. Why not use the land to the fullest in the summer? It sure beats developing raw land when you can use an already impacted area to recreate in a similar fashion year-round, as opposed to just seasonally.
This potential law would make it easier for these ski resorts to have activities like “zip lines, mountain bike terrain parks and trails, frisbee golf courses and rope courses”. Translation-this could mean more business for ski resort driven economies, more fun for us users, and more available jobs for ski resorts in the non-winter seasons (See Queenstown New Zealand for a theory applied example).
This could be a great thing for Tahoe resorts that operate under a special-use permit with the U.S. Forest Service.
“By expanding Forest Service permits to include year round recreational opportunities, our bill will create jobs, increase tourism and provide an added boost to local economies,” Barrasso said.
Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) built on Barrasso’s comment by sharing, “Utah is a premier winter recreation destination and offers some of the most legendary skiing in the world. The same mountains and unique geography that draw visitors from around the globe each winter also offer a vast array of off-season recreational opportunities. However, outdated laws are prohibiting these areas from offering year-round recreational access. Updating the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act will foster increased tourism, encourage job growth and bolster mountain economies across the country”.
The law would not allow uses like water parks or amusement parks. I wonder what Snowbird thinks of this based on their potential plan to build an amusement park at the base of Mt. Superior?
It’s also interesting to note that although the U.S. Forest Service has ignored the specific wording of its own Act, the language particular to the 1986 Act has never actually “allowed” or “permitted” snowboarding on U.S. Forest Service Land. In the new bill, prior references to “nordic and alpine skiing” will be changed to “skiing and other snow sports and recreational uses.” This is essentially a way to make snowboarding allowable by law, which means it hasn’t been legit by law for over 25 years!?!
As long as the Bill stays true to its intent, and doesn’t get manipulated for unnecessary, non-recreational uses like luxury real estate, this sounds like one of the better bills on behalf of the ski industry in several years. If anything, it’s about time snowboarding will being recognized for its proper place in the industry. That’s about as overdue as spring was in the Sierra this year. Way to get with the times guys. It’s only 2011!?!