Udall floats bill clarifying ski area activities & regs
In what he calls an effort to promote year-round tourism for Colorado ski areas, U.S. Sen Mark Udall introduced legislation Thursday that would clarify permitting regulations for ski areas on U.S. Forest Service land. “The last snowflake doesn’t signal the end to our outdoor recreation,” Udall told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “And our ski areas shouldn’t have to close up shop once the snow melts either. The bill would help boost year-round activity in our ski resorts, provide more opportunities for outdoor recreation in Colorado, create jobs and cement stability for our mountain economies.” Amending the 1986 National Forest Ski Area Permit Act, the legislation would specifically enable the Forest Service to permit certain pastimes on public land, including mountain biking and snowboarding, which are not identified in the current law as a permissible activity. The Forest Service often uses discretion allowing ski areas to host activities that are not specified as permissible in the existing law, but Udall said it would be helpful to both the Forest Service and private businesses to have approved activities defined by law. All four of Summit County’s ski areas, Breckenridge Ski Resort, Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Keystone Resort, would be impacted by the legislation.Udall said he worked with the environmental community in drafting the bill, which would specifically ban some activities from ski areas on public lands and preserve the Forest Service discretion in permitting some activities. “There would be flexibility for the Forest Service as to what activities were permitted,” Udall said. “But this puts in place a process to make those determinations. It was much more up in the air before this proposal was put forth.”Language in the bill specifically authorizes, under appropriate circumstances, zip lines, mountain bike terrain parks and trails, Frisbee golf courses and ropes courses. Summer concerts would also be permissible under the bill. It would prohibit amusement parks, tennis courts, water slides and parks, swimming pools and golf courses. Summit County Commissioner and former state senator Dan Gibbs came out in favor of the proposed legislation, saying it will be a good thing for Summit in promoting summer tourism activities. “I think this is a real positive for Summit County,” Gibbs said. “This helps clarify and recognize the fact that … there are many other year-round activities that you can do at ski resorts. It recognizes the multi-use aspect of what ski resorts mean to communities. The days of ski resorts only being there for ski-time activities, in my opinion, are long gone.”Udall said the bill has received bipartisan support.
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