On Monday, November 7th, President Obama signed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 into law. The act allows ski areas in national forests to expand their operations to include facilities for activities in the non-winter months.
The passage of the law is expected to boost business for ski resorts by permitting them to construct mountain bike trails, zip lines, ropes course and other facilities for warm weather recreation. While ski resorts are still in the process of determining exactly what may be done under the new rules, it is expected to have significant financial benefits for the operators of the ski areas and the people they employ.
The act is expected to sustain approximately 600 year round jobs directly related to recreation at ski resorts located on National Forest Sytem land throughout the country. Summer recreation at these facilities is also expected to result in about $40 million in spending in affected communities.
While the act opens the door for a variety of popular activities, the construction of new facilities, such as biking trails and terrain parks, will be subject to the same review and approval process that ski lifts. Activities and structures considered harmful to the natural environment are still prohibited, such as golf course, tennis courts, swimming pools, and water parks.
Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Tom Tidwell commented on the new law, "The national forests have always been some of America's greatest playgrounds. It is exciting that our ski areas will now be able to offer more recreational opportunities and economic benefits."