'Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act' Aims To Boost Summer Ski Area Activities, Year-Round Employment

Q: When Is A Ski Resort Not A Ski Resort?

A: In the summer, apparently. Recently passed legislation, however, aims to change that.

The U.S. House passed the 'Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act' (alternatively known as H.R. 765) Monday night. According to the Colorado Independent, the bi-partisan legislation provides legal backing for increased summer activities at ski resorts.

In theory, a boost in summer activities at resorts will likewise lead to a boost in year-round employment and help grow Colorado's mountain resort communities. Every Colorado U.S. Representative sponsored the bill except Doug Lamborn (R-CD5) from Colorado Springs. A companion bill is also in the Senate (S. 382), sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (Michael Bennet is a co-sponsor).

Udall originally proposed the legislation in 2009, aiming "to revise the 1986 law governing the permitting of ski areas on National Forests, clarifying that the Forest Service is authorized to permit year-round recreational activities where appropriate."

The latest bill goes a bit further, actually specifying certain activities for coverage. Specifically,
  • Zip lines
  • Mountain bike terrain parks and trails
  • Frisbee golf courses
  • Ropes courses
But the bill
  • Tennis courts
  • Water slides and water parks
  • Swimming pools
  • Golf courses
  • Amusement parks

According to the Summit County Voice, conservation groups have fought the bill fearing increased disturbances to national forests. Economic development groups (particularly the ski lobby) argue the need for employment boosts and the end of what they claim are restrictive, antiquated, laws.

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