Ron Wackowski: Should ski areas be allowed to profit off public lands for free? | SteamboatToday.com

Ron Wackowski: Should ski areas be allowed to profit off public lands for free?

I just received an email from Congressman Tipton on the "Recreation Not Red Tape Act" being reviewed by the Natural Resources Committee. The congressman points out that ski areas pay a permit fee to the government in order to operate (and profit) on federal lands.

This currently goes to the U.S. Treasury. Congressman Tipton is proposing to return a portion of this money to ski areas in order to "enhance recreational opportunities." In other words, Mr. Tipton is wanting to let ski companies make a profit off public lands for free.

Why on earth does our government need to give money to companies in order to help them to make more money? In May of this year, it was announced that Intrawest made a profit of $177 million in the period that included January, February and March of 2017. That's not too shabby.

Yes, and this is the company that in the past decided to stop providing health insurance to its part-time employees. And the outlook must have looked good enough to entice the recent acquisition by a new joint venture between Aspen Ski Company and KSL Capital Partners. And this is the company that charges locals a pretty good chunk of change for season ski passes and charges tourists over $150 per day to ski.

So, how will that money given to the ski industry enhance my recreational opportunities? Will I see a significant reduction in my ski pass costs? I very much doubt it.

I have a different suggestion. If our congressman really wants to enhance the recreational opportunities for the people of this country, why not use the money to help cover some of the backlogged maintenance in our National Parks? Congress has been extremely poor shepherds of our parks for a long time. (I won't even go into the money grab that Secretary Zinke is proposing.)

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I suggest this would be a much better use than a handout to the ski industry that will likely only increase their profits.

If you care about recreation opportunities, I suggest you call the congressman's office and tell him how ridiculous this proposal really is.

Ron Wackowski

Steamboat Springs

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