Federal bill opens ski areas to summer recreation

Dylan SilverTahoe Daily Tribune

LAKE TAHOE andamp;#8212; A bill signed Monday by President Barack Obama could turn Lake Tahoe ski resorts into year-round playgrounds. But donandamp;#8217;t expect waterslides down your favorite run, because that is now clearly illegal.The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 is intended to allow ski resorts on National Forest land to offer natural, non-intrusive recreational activities all year.andamp;#8220;This act is useful to us in that it spells out what is allowable,andamp;#8221; said Forest Service spokeswoman Cheva Heck.The bill updates the 1986 National Forest Ski Area Permit Act, which only allowed nordic and Alpine skiing to be permitted on ski areas. Examples of allowable activities written in the update include mountain biking, zip lines, ropes courses and disc golf courses.andamp;#8220;Those possibilities mightandamp;#8217;ve been there,andamp;#8221; Heck said. andamp;#8220;But now we donandamp;#8217;t have to have that conversation of whatandamp;#8217;s allowable and whatandamp;#8217;s not allowable.andamp;#8221;The bill also lists activities not permitted at the ski areas, which include golf courses, water slides, swimming pools and tennis courts.Twenty-five of Californiaandamp;#8217;s 29 ski areas are on National Forest land, including eight Lake Tahoe resorts.The Forest Service is estimating 600 jobs will be created with the increased activity at ski areas, according to a statement released Tuesday.andamp;#8220;This is great news for promoting job growth and economic stimulus in California,andamp;#8221; said Forest Service spokesman Randy Moore in the statement. andamp;#8220;Local restaurants, hotels and shop owners are likely to see an increase in business as visitors flock to scenic Forest Service locations for year-round activities.andamp;#8221;The National Ski Areas Association agreed the bill would have an impact at many mountains.andamp;#8220;Ski areas across the country are ready to step up summer programs,andamp;#8221; said president Michael Berry in a press release. andamp;#8220;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.andamp;#8221;All activities will still be subject to local regulation, and plans will have to be approved by the Forest Service. To even be considered, activities must encourage outdoor recreation and the enjoyment of nature and harmonize with the natural environment, according to the bill.

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