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By Shanti Johnson
In a press release issued by the USDA April 15, it was announced that the U.S. Forest Service finalized a policy to promote year-round recreation on ski areas.
The release states that the new policy “will open opportunities for ski areas to promote year-round recreation activities that are natural resource-based and that will create additional jobs for communities with ski areas on the National Forests.”
The guidelines for the new recreation policy are expected to be published this week in the Federal Register, and will take effect immediately.
The USDA states, “Early estimates by the agency indicate that expanding ski area recreation activities will increase by 600,000 the number of summer visits on national forests; ski areas now average 23 million visits annually. Also expected are an additional 600 full- or part-time jobs and almost $40 million infused in local mountain communities.”
The actions by the USFS are connected to the 2011 Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act, which amended previous limitations placed on ski area permits.
The 2011 legislation was sponsored by Mark Udall, D-CO, and co-sponsored by Michale Bennet, D-CO, and 11 others in the Senate.
Scott Tipton, R-CO, and five other Colorado representatives co-sponsored the legislation in the House.
Both Tipton and Udall issued statements applauding the USFS announcement Tuesday, recognizing that it will bring much needed economic stimulus to Colorado’s mountain towns.
According to the USFS announcement, “The 2011 act specifically includes such activities as zip lines, mountain bike terrain parks and trails, disc golf courses and rope courses. These types of activities are natural resource-based and encourage further exploration of Forest Service lands in contrast to theme or amusement parks.”
The new USFS guidelines require that all activities implemented on ski area lands be natural resource-based and encourage outdoor recreation along with enjoyment of nature.