A bill authorizing summer and year-round activities at ski areas on Forest System lands has passed Congress and is expected to be signed into law soon by President Barack Obama. The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act (S. 382/H.R. 765) paves the way for more robust summer operations at the nation’s 121 ski areas that operate on public lands.

The measure will allow ski resorts located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming to offer their guests a wider array of activities in summer, including zip lines, mountain biking and mountain bike parks, ropes courses and Frisbee golf courses.

“We are thrilled about the passage of this bill and we want to thank the bill sponsors, including Senator Udall from Colorado, Senator Barrasso from Wyoming, Representative Bishop from Utah, and Representative DeGette from Colorado, for their superb leadership in moving this legislation forward in Washington during these challenging times,” said Michael Berry, president of National Ski Areas Association. “Ski areas across the country are ready to step up our summer programs and provide our guests a fantastic experience on the slopes during the summer months as well. Year-round activities at ski areas will allow resorts to create more year-round jobs and boost the economies of the mountain communities in which we operate.”

Senator Mark Udall, who introduced the bill three times – once as a Representative and twice as a Senator- worked tirelessly to push the bill past the finish line. The bipartisan measure passed unanimously in the Senate and by an overwhelmingly positive margin of 394 to 0 in the House of Representatives.

“In Colorado, we know that the last snowflake falling doesn't signal the end to our outdoor recreation-and it's about time the law reflected that,” said Udall. “A small clarification to the law means that appropriate activities like snowboarding, zip lining and concerts can take place on public lands, enhancing our enjoyment of them and helping mountain communities sustain local jobs through the shoulder seasons. This is a big win for mountain towns and ski areas across Colorado and across the country.”

Ski areas operate on National Forest System lands in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and pay fees to the federal government on the basis of revenues generated on public land. The passage of the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act will result in increased revenues to the federal government, as increased summer and year-round revenues will boost federal government receipts.

“The outdoor industry applauds Congress for making it easier for Americans to recreate outdoors,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association. “Ski areas have the infrastructure, staff and rental facilities to play a major role in providing ready access to winter and summer recreation on our federal lands.  Legislation such as S. 382 encourages healthy lifestyles, supports rural economies and bolsters the growing outdoor recreation industry.”

Year-round activities on ski areas will support sustainable, American jobs and bolster economies, particularly in rural communities where the areas are located. In Colorado alone, outdoor recreation drives $7.6 billion in annual retail sales and services; supports 107,000 jobs; and drives $500 million in annual sales tax revenues.


“Winter and summer recreation activities – everything from skiing and snowboarding to mountain biking and hiking to fishing and hunting – are economic drivers in rural communities,” explained Mark Satkiewicz, CEO of SmartWool in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. “Getting people active and outdoors is good for American waistlines, American jobs and our business.”