On Monday, November 7th, President Obama signed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act into law (S. 382/H.R. 765 or SAROEA? No cool acronym this time). The bill aims to streamline the permitting application process for ski resorts to facilitate summertime recreational activities on leased Federal lands permitted for snow sports during the winter. President Obama Signs Ski Area Summer Use Bill Into Law | Unofficial Networks

President Obama Signs Ski Area Summer Use Bill Into Law

President Obama Signs Ski Area Summer Use Bill Into Law

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President Obama Signs Ski Area Summer Use Bill Into Law

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winter-park-freeride-feature

Winter Park (image: bikerumor.com)

On Monday, November 7th, President Obama signed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act into law (S. 382/H.R. 765 or SAROEA? No cool acronym this time). The bill aims to streamline the permitting application process for ski resorts to facilitate summertime recreational activities on leased Federal lands permitted for snow sports during the winter.

Permits for summertime uses have historically been available but frustrated resort operators have described the application process as redundant and tedious, often requiring additional EIS reports for added summertime uses.

Jeremy Fancher, policy analyst and in-house counsel for the Boulder-based International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), called that process “something of a duplication of effort.”

Denver Business Journal

Possible summertime recreational use (image: plankingshots.com)

Possible summertime recreational use (image: plankingshots.com)

Presented by Senator Mark Udall (D) Colorado, S. 382 will amend the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 to permit activities beyond alpine and Nordic skiing already allowed in ski areas on public lands. Summertime uses would include things like mountain biking, frisbee golf, ropes courses, zip lines, mountain coasters and slides as well as concerts and other events.

Major environmental groups have not opposed the bill however many have made suggestions that the measure discourage the construction of permanent structures. In addition to listing activities that would be fast tracked for permitting, the bill also lists a number of land uses that will not be permitted such as golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools and amusement parks. The restrictions focus on minimizing land coverage that could result in adverse effects for vegetation or infiltration and groundwater recharge on forest lands.

no golfing

no golfing

Co-sponsored by Senator Udall, Senator John Barrasso (R) from Wyoming, Representative Rob Bishop (R) from Utah, and Representative Diana DeGette (D) from Colorado, and others, S. 382 has been presented as a job creator. A hundred and twenty one U.S. ski resorts operate on public lands and;

[Senator] Udall said he expects the new law will spur shoulder-season tourism in ski country, helping to “inject much-needed revenue during slower months and otherwise-tight times.”

Mark Eller, communications director for the IMBA [International mountain bicycling Association], pointed to several studies that hint at the potential rush of activity on the slopes.

Eller noted that a U.S. Department of the Interior report found that land managed by the public agency already accounted for 13,216 recreational jobs and $1.3 billion in economic impact in 2010. And he cited a 2007 Canadian study that found the Whistler Ski Resort Bike Park contributed $18.8 million to the local economy.

Denver Business Journal

ropes course fun

It's gonna take at least two employees to get this person down

The bills’ supporters say that it will create extra jobs and bring in additional revenue to local communities through direct spending. It will also increase lease payments by ski resorts to the federal government.

“The national forests have always been some of America’s greatest playgrounds,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “It is exciting that our ski areas will now be able to offer more recreational opportunities and economic benefits.”

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