The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act, sponsored by Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, is headed to President Obama for his signature. Udall introduced the bill in the Senate in 2009, according to a Udall press release, “but – despite broad, bipartisan support – the bill was blocked in the last days of the session due to partisan wrangling on unrelated issues.”
Udall reintroduced the bill earlier this year, where it passed the Senate by unanimous consent as part of a package of public-lands bills this week. The House approved the bill earlier this month.
“This is helpful to Telluride and the ski industry overall,” wrote Dave Riley, CEO of the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., in an email. “The notion of utilizing ski facilities in the summer makes perfect sense. We're in the process of drafting a new master plan for the ski area, and will take this new legislation into consideration in that process.”
Udall's bill clarifies that the Forest Service can permit appropriate recreational activities such as snowboarding, concerts and ropes courses in addition to the alpine and Nordic skiing already allowed in ski areas. The aim is to allow ski areas to bolster their offerings of both snow and summer sports, allowing mountain communities to grow local jobs and attract more tourists who fuel their economy.
"Colorado is world-known for being an amazing venue for winter recreation, but for too long, ski areas on public lands have been limited in the types of activities they can offer to both residents and tourists,” Udall is quoted saying in the press release. “This bill doesn't cost taxpayers a cent and, with just a small change, can create jobs in mountain communities across the country.”
“Colorado has a well-deserved reputation as a hub for winter sports, and the off-season months offer incredible opportunities for outdoor fun and recreation as well,” Bennet is quoted as saying in the press release. “Making it easier for our mountain resorts to attract tourists during the summer months will create jobs and add to the amazing quality of life Coloradans already enjoy. In today's Washington, getting anything approved is an uphill battle, and Senator Udall ought to be commended for his hard work to get this bill passed.”