Sen. Bennet talks SHRED Act with Vail Resorts, Forest Service officials |

Sen. Bennet talks SHRED Act with Vail Resorts, Forest Service officials

Senator in town discussing legislation that would affect areas where ski resorts do business in the national forest

Sen. Michael Bennet visits with Beth Howard, the chief operating officer for Vail Mountain, on Tuesday, Aug. 17, at the base of the ski resort. Howard said after weathering the pandemic, the company plans to turn its focus to enhancing the guest experience at its ski areas, and Bennet’s SHRED Act could be helpful to that end.
Photo by John LaConte / Vail Daily

VAIL — Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado hosted a discussion of his Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development Act legislation Tuesday, Aug. 17, at the base of Vail Mountain.

The legislation, more commonly known as the SHRED Act, seeks to bring more funding from the U.S. Treasury to the White River National Forest, among other national forest areas in the United States.

The various parties involved — White River National Forest, town of Vail, town of Avon, Eagle and Summit county commissioners, Vail Resorts and more — sat at separate tables, but the event represented a collective coming to the table of all of the groups, as the idea did not always have broad support.

The SHRED Act idea began with former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who sought to bring a portion of the fees that ski areas pay into the U.S. Treasury back to the Forest Service areas from which they came to support activities in the forest. In Gardner’s bill, those activities were focused on supporting ski areas.

Bennet’s rewrite seeks to provide funds not only for ski area permitting and programs but also to manage special-user permits, serve visitors, improve trailheads and maintain facilities.

“I’m just really grateful that we’re all in this together now,” Bennet told the group. “The counties I think were right to stay off the old version of this bill because there’s so much that they do that they really shouldn’t have to because we are underinvested at the national forest.”

Eagle County Commissioner Matt Scherr said the current form of the SHRED Act is a step in the right direction.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a done deal,” Scherr said.

Scherr said the Front Country Ranger Program in Eagle County, which provides additional patrol services for the national forest, is a good example of a program the SHRED Act could help.

Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said having national funding come into local forests has become more critical in recent years as nearby forests have seen an uptick in visitation.

Vail Town Manager Scott Robson said the SHRED Act could also bring logging activity to the Vail area.

“If we can move that 4,500 acre fuel reduction project in East Vail forward with this new staffing, you begin to reduce that wildfire threat in East Vail that — if we have Vail Pass and East Vail burn — the trickle-down economic effect of that is so drastic that we will all be looking for different jobs here in a few years,” Robson said.

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