On March 6, Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) introduced the Ski Area Fee Retention Act. Currently, ski area permit fees paid to the Forest Service are sent to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and then appropriated back to the Forest Service. This legislation would create a Ski Area Fee Retention Account under the National Forest System, in which a portion of the roughly $37 million in annual fees generated by the ski areas would be retained. This would ensure that the Forest Service has adequate resources to administer permits and review capital improvement project proposals in more heavily trafficked forests.
“The current permitting process for ski area projects on National Forest System land is broken. To improve visitors’ experiences and support recreation opportunities on public lands, we must increase capacity for permitting administration within the Forest Service, and that is exactly what the Ski Area Fee Retention Act will do,” said Tipton. “Allowing the Forest Service to retain a portion of the ski area fees for permit administration on the ski area where the fees were generated will create efficiencies in federal spending, incentivize private investment, boost local economies and enhance visitor experience. Outdoor enthusiasts across the country will benefit from this legislation.”
“The Forest Service is an important partner for Colorado’s communities and outdoor recreation industry,” Bennet said. “Retaining some of the ski area fees in our National Forests will help strengthen that partnership and provide new opportunities for growth in our mountain communities.”
“It’s important that our skiing communities don’t just send money to Washington and not fully benefit from the government fees they are charged,” Gardner said. “My bipartisan legislation with Senator Bennet will make it easier for our skiing communities to make the capital improvements they need to grow and thrive.”
“All of the ski areas operating on public land appreciate Senator Gardner and Senator Bennet’s support in introducing this critical legislation,” said Geraldine Link, Director of Public Policy for National Ski Areas Association. “The bill will support the important public-private partnership between the Forest Service and ski areas, facilitate private investment in infrastructure on public lands, and ultimately benefit rural economies and the recreating public.”
“Colorado Ski Country USA thanks Senators Gardner and Bennet for their leadership in introducing the Ski Area Fee Retention Act of 2018,” said Melanie Mills, President & CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. “Ski areas in Colorado strongly support this proposed legislation, which will provide local Forest Service offices with the resources they so badly need to administer ski area permits and to review and process ski area proposals for improvements.”
While still in initial stages, we will continue to follow the Act’s progress through Congress and provide updates as they are available.