Congress Passes Udall Summer Ski-Area Bill

Thu, 2011-10-20

As we mentioned in a previous story posted by Ed Sealover of the Denver Business Journal, Senator Mark Udall is sponsoring a bill to enhance ski-resort summers that amends a 25-year old law to help the National Forest Service streamline permitting for ropes courses, Frisbee golf, mountain bike trails, and zip lines on federal land located on and around ski resorts. 

We have some great news- as of this Tuesday (October 18, 2011), Senate Bill S.382 has been unanimously approved and is waiting President Obama's Signature! 

UPDATE: On Monday, November 7th, 2011, President Obama signed Senate Bill S.382 into law!

Read more details in Ed Sealover's story below!

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Congress passes Udall ski-area bill; Obama expected to sign

Ed Sealover
Reporter - Denver Business Journal

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would make it easier for ski areas on public land to use the property for summer activities, sending the legislation to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Sponsoring U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo, said on his Facebook page Tuesday afternoon that he is “thrilled” that the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act is on its way to becoming a law.

“This is a great win for Colorado’s mountain towns — with a simple clarification to the law, we’re helping ski towns and resorts create hundreds of jobs and bolster communities during the shoulder seasons,” Udall wrote.

“I’m grateful to my bipartisan partners in Congress who backed this legislation. I hope this is a positive sign that we can continue to work together on behalf of Coloradans — and all Americans.”

The legislation would make it easier for ski resorts that are wholly or partially located on federal land to get special permits to allow activities other than nordic or alpine skiing.

Such permits are available now, but the process can be lengthy and deterring, involving seemingly duplicative environmental impact studies of the effects of activities like biking on the same land that hosts skiing throughout the winter.

Twenty-two of Colorado’s 26 ski resorts would be affected by the law, and a number have spoken to Udall about wanting to set up activities such as zip lines, Frisbee golf or advanced mountain biking trails upon their property. 

The law not only could increase revenue and visitation to the areas, resort operators say, but would allow many resorts to create more year-round jobs in places where the workforce normally is pared down greatly in the summer and fall.

“Great news — ski area bill finally passed U.S. Senate! Off to President Obama 4 signature,” tweeted Jenn Dice, government affairs director for the International Mountain Biking Association, a major supporter of the legislation. “Paves the way for more #mtbing at US Ski Resorts.”

Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, called the passage of the bill “a major milestone in the ability for ski resort operators across the country to offer appropriate, year-round recreational activities.”

“We hope the Forest Service will act quickly to craft regulations that allow for the full realization of the benefits of this bill, while ensuring that we protect the spectacular natural environments which serve as the backdrops for mountain resorts,” Katz said in a news release. “We look forward to expanding our partnership with the USFS to create new recreational opportunities for kids and families that encourage engagement in outdoor activities.”

Udall first introduced the bill as a member of the U.S. House in 2008, then offered it again in the Senate during the 2009-10 Congress, only to see it die during the final day of the session. This year, it moved through with bipartisan sponsorship and no opposition.

No date has been set yet for Obama’s expected signature on Senate Bill S.382.

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