After a 394-0 vote in the House, we hope the Senate will pass a measure providing summer recreation (and jobs) at ski areas.
A glimmer of good news came out of Washington this week for those of us who appreciate not only the beauty of Colorado's mountains, but the recreational opportunities they provide.
We were glad to see that a measure giving ski resorts more latitude to develop summer recreational activities on public lands passed the U.S. House and is now moving on to the U.S. Senate.
The result may be more places for Coloradans to ride a mountain bike or a zip line — and more places to find employment.
In these difficult economic times, additional jobs in mountain towns would be a positive development. Jobs that are typically available only in the winter could potentially become year-round employment.
The Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act passed the House Monday on a vote of 394-0, receiving strong bipartisan support from Colorado's congressional delegation.
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., is the driving force behind the measure, which was co-sponsored in the House by Colorado Reps.Diana DeGette,Jared Polis,Ed Perlmutter, Scott Tipton, Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman. Sen. Michael Bennet is a co-sponsor on the Senate version.
It is good to see some small bit of unity in the nation's capital during these fractious times.
What the bill would do, technically, is amend a 25-year-old federal law so it would be easier for the U.S. Forest Service to allow ski resorts to use federal lands for activities other than downhill and Nordic skiing.
Ski resorts, 22 of which in Colorado have facilities at least partially on federal land, can get permission to carry out other activities on public land now, but it can be a cumbersome process.
The bill clarifies additional uses that can be approved by the U.S. Forest Service. The measure specifically includes uses such as zip lines, mountain bike terrain parks, Frisbee golf courses and ropes courses.
It also specifically excludes tennis courts, water slides and water parks, swimming pools, golf courses and amusement parks.
We like that it spells out activities that don't involve intrusive structures and excludes those that do.
If the measure gets through the Senate, then there will be the all-important process of creating rules that ski resorts would have to follow in order to get approval for these activities. We hope such rules are in keeping with the constrained nature of the measure.
The idea is a long time coming. Udall, who has pursued the idea for years, saw it passed by both chambers last year. However, it died on the last day of the session, when it failed to get a vote that would have reconciled the different versions of the bill.
Federal lawmakers have a chance to get it right this time. The measure would be good news for many of us who like to work and play in Colorado.