On Tuesday night, the US Senate unanimously passed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunities Enhancement Act. This new piece of legislation amends the statutes that govern how ski resorts can operate on US Forest Service land—allowing ski resorts to expand their summertime offerings and services.
"The law we had was so vague that the Forest Service didn't feel they had clear direction from Congress. So the ski areas could not get clear directions from the Forest Service," said Colorado Senator Mark Udall, who first introduced the bill when he was in Congress in 2008. "Both groups approached me asking for help."
The new bill should allow for more mountain bike courses like this one at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in W.Va. Photo Courtesy of Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
Udall's bill is aimed at creating more jobs by making it easier for ski areas to expand summertime amenities such as zip lines, mountain biking, ropes courses and other activities appropriate for a natural mountain setting. The act was unanimously approved by the House and Senate this month and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama by the end of the year.
"I made it job one, because I knew if I didn't go all in, it would continue to go nowhere," Udall said. "This will not cost taxpayers a dime."
The new bill should make for more zip lines like this one at Crested Butte. Photo Courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
This is a major milestone for US ski resorts, but it may be some time before the fruits of Udall's labor are seen. The bill directs the US Forest Service to begin adopting regulations that will set the parameters for these new activities, so it will not happen overnight. Regardless, expect to see more shoulder season and summertime offerings from your favorite ski area in years to come.