Senators’ Bipartisan Bill Allows National Forests to Retain Fees Generated by Ski Areas to Support Local Recreation
Legislation Could Bring Up To $21.7 Million Dollars to Colorado
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, celebrated their Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act advancing out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Bennet and Barrasso introduced this bipartisan legislation in June to invest in outdoor recreation in mountain communities by enabling National Forests to retain a portion of the annual fees paid by ski areas operating within their boundaries. According to the latest estimates from the United States Forest Service, the legislation could bring up to $21,726,400 in retained ski area fees to Colorado National Forests that can be used to improve the ski area program and permitting, as well as overall National Forest recreation management.
The bill has nine additional bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate, including Colorado U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper. U.S. Representatives Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), John Curtis (R-Utah), Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), and Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I’m pleased that our SHRED Act to support mountain communities in Colorado and across the West passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today,” said Bennet. “Our bipartisan bill would keep ski fees local to help our National Forests keep up with outdoor recreation demands. I look forward to working with Senator Barrasso and my colleagues to get this critical legislation over the finish line.”
“Key Wyoming public lands priorities are moving forward,” said Barrasso. “The SHRED Act will help make the Forest Service a better partner to Wyoming’s ski communities. By creating a dedicated account for the Forest Service fees our ski resorts pay, they’ll be able to use these funds to improve facilities, protect the forests, and support the economy.”
“This will be a gamechanger for many of Colorado’s mountain communities. The SHRED Act allows the people who use National Forest land the most to prioritize where the need is greatest,” said Hickenlooper, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
“Outdoor recreation and skiing are cornerstones of our New Hampshire economy and Granite State way of life,” said Kuster. “As co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Ski and Snowboard Caucus, my Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act will steer more New Hampshire dollars back home by investing fees paid by our Granite State ski mountains into local forests to bolster our regional economy and create more year-round jobs. The SHRED Act will provide funding for expanded parking, trail maintenance, and increase visitor services, so everyone can enjoy the White Mountains.”
“Colorado’s 2nd district is home to some of the best skiing in the country, and the growing industry boosts our local mountain economies and the tourism our communities rely on to thrive,” said Neguse, who serves as Chair of the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. “Keeping ski fees local is common-sense and will bring more federal resources to the National Forests in Colorado, equipping our local ski industry by investing in wildfire planning, outdoor permitting and public land maintenance. This bill delivers for our Colorado communities, our state’s economy, and the treasured public lands we’re known for and I’m thrilled to see it moving in the Senate.”
Last month, Bennet testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in support of the SHRED Act.
“CAST is excited to see the SHRED Act take the next step in the legislative process and is proud to have collaborated with Senator Bennet, federal land managers, the ski industry and local governments to develop the bill,” said Margaret Bowes, Executive Director, Colorado Association of Ski Towns. “The SHRED Act will direct much-needed funding to some of the nation’s most visited national forests and give the USFS additional resources to manage and protect the public lands on which mountain town economies are so dependent.”
“NWCCOG congratulates Senator Bennet and his staff on this groundbreaking bill which will bring millions of dollars back to the White River National Forest and other forests with ski areas to give a leg up to underfunded offices and forest staff who manage permits and recreation in the busiest national forests in the U.S.,” said Jon Stavney, Executive Director, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. “With the impacts of COVID and Climate this funding comes at a critical time for our beloved forests. The Senator and his staff worked hard to negotiate a bill that would allow our local governments to stop having to backfill recreation management budgets on nearby national forests as they have in recent years. Now more than ever, our forests need active management, and this legislation provides the funding for our National Forest managers to do just that. The markup of this legislation in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is a critical next step in this process.”
“The amount of revenue from ski and winter activities on national forests is also an indication of the impacts of that use and the need for investment to serve that use,” said Matt Scherr, Chair of the Eagle County Board of County Commissioners. “The SHRED Act will finally allow the Forest Service to more adequately invest in our natural resources that Eagle County residents and visitors alike clearly value so much.”
“Our regional economy is driven by outdoor recreation and the SHRED Act will help ensure that the ski area fees generated locally are put back toward building a resilient & sustainable tourism experience,” said Chris Romer, President & CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership. “This legislation is a win-win-win as it will positively impact our local businesses, our local communities, as well as those who visit.”
“Today’s markup of the SHRED Act in the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is another promising step forward for the long term health of our National Forests and particularly those here in Colorado,” said Elisabeth Lawrence, Summit County Commissioner. “Our National Forests are the backbone of our economy, with the White River National Forest hosting the most National Forest visitors in the United States. As Summit County is home to four world class ski resorts, keeping dollars local is imperative to mitigate impacts to our forests and keep them pristine, protected, and healthy for generations to come.”
“The $55 billion skiing industry is an important part of the American outdoor recreation economy, supporting more than half a million jobs across the country,” said Outdoor Industry Association executive director Lise Aangeenbrug. “These ski areas – and the local economies they support – rely on well-maintained and properly funded National Forests. That is why this commonsense, bipartisan proposal is so important. It would ensure a majority of the ski fees collected by the National Forests remain in the forest that collected them, providing local officials flexibility to invest in conservation and outdoor recreation projects and supporting conservation efforts to ensure ski areas and other parts of the forest remain accessible for years to come. We commend Senators Bennet and Barrasso for their leadership and look forward to working with them to see it passed into law.”
"Skiing is a beloved outdoor winter activity and vitally important to local communities’ and the nation's outdoor recreation economy — the SHRED Act will ensure that the Forest Service has the bandwidth and resources necessary to support its ski area program and ultimately benefit the visitor experience at both resorts and trailheads,” said Jessica (Wahl) Turner, executive director of Outdoor Recreation Roundtable. "ORR applauds Senators Bennet (D-CO) and Barrasso (R-WY) for their leadership introducing the SHRED Act that will allow for a portion of annual fees to remain with the national forests where they are collected. If passed, this will be a huge win that will both bolster mountain communities' outdoor recreation opportunities and economies."