Our View: New ski bill holds promise | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: New ski bill holds promise

A bill that finally made its way through Congress this week has significant potential for mountain communities like Steamboat Springs. Kudos to representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle who voted in favor it.

The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011, sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, in the House of Representatives and by Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Mark Barasso, R-Wyo., in the Senate, clarifies the 25-year-old National Forest Ski Area Permit Act in terms of what kinds of recreational activities can take place on permitted ski area lands in both winter and summer. More important for Colorado mountain resorts like Steamboat Ski Area, the act removes some of the bureaucratic red tape that slows the permitting and eventual construction of summertime attractions like mountain bike trails and terrain parks.

The bill unanimously passed through the House last week, and it was approved by the Senate late Tuesday.

By specifically allowing zip lines, mountain bike trails and terrain parks, Frisbee golf courses and ropes courses, the new law eliminates the need for special permitting and review of those common mountain activities. A rules process still would be put in place for ski areas that want approval for those types of summer activities, but it would be better defined and more straightforward than what exists now. And the significance of that shouldn't be lost on residents here.

Our summertime tourist economy is an increasingly critical component to the success of our community year-round. Efforts like the Bike Town USA Initiative and the bike trail expansion on Mount Werner speak to the importance of year-round tourism and the ability of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. to capitalize quickly on the momentum of the cycling movement. Removing barriers that would stifle that momentum is appropriate, and that's why we're pleased the Senate and House passed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011.

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