H.R. 765: Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011

H.R. 765

Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011

Sponsor
Rep. Rob Bishop

Date
October 3, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, October 3, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 765 under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval.  H.R. 765 was introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) on February 17, 2011, and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the bill on June 15, 2011, by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 765 would amend the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 to expand the activities permitted by ski resorts which use land that is owned and maintained by the National Forest Service.  In general, the legislation would expand the definition of allowable activities from “Nordic and alpine skiing operations” to “skiing and other snow sports and recreational uses.” 

 The bill would authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to allow other recreational activities on ski area land owned by the National Forest System.  Specifically, these additional activities and facilities may include zip lines, mountain bike terrain parks and trails, frisbee golf courses, and ropes courses.  Activities and facilities that would be specifically prohibited on Forest Service land subject to a ski area permit would include tennis courts, water slides and water parks, swimming pools, golf courses, and amusement parks.

Under the bill, no activity or facility could be authorized by the Secretary if it is determined that the new activity or facility would result in the primary recreational purpose of the area to be anything other than skiing and other snow-sports. The Secretary would be required to promulgate regulations to implement this bill within two years of enactment. 

Background

Under the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986, ski resorts desiring to use National Forest lands must apply to the Forest Service for a special use permit.  H.R. 765 would amend the Permit Act to allow seasonal and year-round natural resource-based, recreational activities and associated facilities at ski areas, in addition to those that support Nordic and alpine skiing and other snow sports that are currently authorized by law.   According to House Report 112-164, “current law does not address activities other than Nordic and alpine skiing, snow sports, and their ancillary facilities at ski areas on U.S. Forest Service lands. Congress intended the term ‘appropriate ancillary facilities’ to include ‘only those facilities directly necessary for the operation and support of a winter sports facility.’ This legislation would allow for new activities such as ziplines, climbing walls, mountain biking, and alpine slides.”

Cost

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 765 “could increase the agency’s collection of fees from ski concessioners (currently yielding offsetting receipts to the Treasury of about $30 million a year) but CBO estimates that any increase would total less than $500,000 a year.”