Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) joined with Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Mark Udall (D-CO) as well as fellow Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) to introduce the Ski Area Recreation Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011, which amends the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986. This legislation would change permitting for ski areas on National Forest Service lands to allow for year round recreation, which would increase tourism and job creation.
"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 However, outdated laws are prohibiting these areas from offering year-round recreational access.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," said Congressman Bishop. "While Congress can't create jobs by itself, we can improve laws and create a more certain and rationale regulatory climate that will enable private enterprise to create jobs. This law does just that."
The 1986 law currently limits only ski-related activities in Forest Service ski areas. The proposed legislation would amend and update the law, to include other recreational snow sports other than alpine and Nordic skiing, such as snowboarding. Additionally, the bill would authorize the Forest Service to allow year-round activities beyond the winter months. These changes will bring increased stability to seasonal economies and provide additional job opportunities throughout our mountain communities.
"Tourism is a top economic driver for Colorado, but because many of our ski areas are limited to providing recreational opportunities during the winter months only, many ski towns swing between thriving winters and slumping shoulder seasons every year," Udall said. "This bill will bolster mountain economies by enabling the Forest Service to permit more use during the off-seasons. Our appreciation of the wilderness should not be constrained to one season out of the year; opening the door to more--responsible--recreational opportunities can bring to ski-area communities more jobs and economic stability."
"Ski areas are a key part of Wyoming's recreation and tourism industry," Barrasso said. "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."
"This bill will not only increase recreational opportunities but also expand business opportunities and jobs. Year-round recreational activity will provide substantial benefits to our local economies, and help create stable jobs in the thirteen states that are currently home to ski resorts on public land," DeGette said. "In Colorado, outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking are an intrinsic part of our everyday lives throughout the year. With this bill, tourists can join us in those activities, no longer visiting only in the winter and looking elsewhere for amenities in the summer."