U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) have introduced an act to support winter recreation in mountain communities and it’s name is freaking rad. KKTV reports lawmakers say the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act would: “ensure National Forests retain a portion of the annual fees that ski areas operating within their boundaries pay to support local recreation and community priorities”. To read the entire bill GO HERE
Specifically, the Act would:
- Keep Ski Fees Local: By establishing a Ski Area Fee Retention Account to retain a portion of the fees that ski areas pay to the Forest Service. For National Forests that receive less than $15 million in ski fees annually, 75% of the fees are retained. For forests that receive more than $15 million in ski fees annually, 60% of the ski fees would be retained. The retained funds are available for authorized uses at the local National Forest.
- Support Winter Recreation: In each National Forest, 75% of the retained funds are directly available to support Forest Service Ski Area Program and permitting needs, process proposals for improvement projects, train staff, and prepare for wildfire. Any excess funds can be directed to other National Forests that host ski areas for the same uses. After all of the winter recreation uses have been addressed across the country, excess funds are carried over to the pot of funding that supports broad recreation needs.
- Address Broad Recreation Needs: In each National Forest, 25% of the retained funds are available to support a broad set of local recreation management and community needs, including special use permit administration, visitor services, trailhead improvements, facility maintenance, and affordable workforce housing. This set-aside would dramatically increase some Forest Service unit’s budgets to meet the growing visitation and demand for outdoor recreation.
Both lawmakers released statements on this act:
“Skiing is a vital component of Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry, creating jobs and boosting local economies. The partnership between ski areas, the Forest Service, and mountain communities is critical – especially in areas like the White River National Forest. This bill will rightfully keep funds where they are generated and help local communities tackle their own priorities, like making trailhead improvements or increasing staffing. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this done for mountain communities in Colorado and across the country.” –Senator Michael Bennet
“Wyoming is home to world class skiing. The resorts in the Jackson area and across the state are critical to our economy. Right now, Wyoming ski communities are sending money to Washington but not receiving the full benefits from those fees. Our legislation will help make the Forest Service a better partner. By creating a specific dedicated account for these fees, Wyoming skiing communities will get more bang for their buck. They will be able to provide an even better experience for visitors by improving their facilities, protecting the forests, and supporting the local economy.” –Senator John Barrasso