On Monday, President Barack Obama signed into law the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act (S. 382/H.R. 765), which paves the way for more robust summer operations at the nation’s 121 ski areas that operate on public lands. The bipartisan Act makes a small change to the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 to allow the Forest Service to permit ski areas to host activities beyond the currently allowed Nordic and alpine skiing. They can now consider permitting activities such as mountain biking, concerts and ropes courses on national forest lands.
The eight ski areas on federal lands within Washington that will benefit from this legislation include 49 Degrees North (Chewelah), Crystal Mountain (Pierce County), Mt. Baker (Bellingham), Mission Ridge (Wenatchee), Stevens Pass (Everett), Snoqualmie Pass (King County), White Pass (Lewis County), and Ski Bluewood (Walla Walla).
Senator Maria Cantwell, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, co-sponsored the bill and played a key role in moving the bill out of committee in July. The bill was introduced by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and is co-sponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), James Risch (R-ID), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).