Summer Ops Bill Advances in Senate
SAM Magazine-Washington, D.C., July 15, 2011- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously recommended passage of the Ski Area Recreation Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011, which would amend the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 to explicitly allow a much wider array of winter and summer activities within resort permit areas.
The 1986 law explicitly allows only alpine and Nordic skiing. Snowboarding and mountain biking, while widely approved on Forest Service land, are not mentioned in the existing law. The Forest Service has frequently allowed these activities because they use the same facilities-lifts and trails-as alpine and Nordic skiing, and thus require little or no additional development.
However, many other potential summer uses have been in limbo. "The Forest Service was having a hard time approving [additional uses]," Jerry Blann, president of Jackson Hole ski area and a member of the NSAA public lands committee, told the Jackson Hole Daily. "They're somewhat frustrated themselves."
Senate sponsors of the summer operations bill include Mark Udall, D-Colo., Mike Enzi, R-Utah, and John Barasso, R-Wyo. A companion bill in the House of Representatives is sponsored by Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.
Similar bills were introduced into the previous session of Congress. They received bipartisan support and were incorporated into an omnibus public lands bill, but that bill never came up for a vote. The legislative process began again during the current session of Congress when the bills were re-introduced last winter.