This week, Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Annie Kuster (D-NH), co-chairs of the House Ski and Snowboard Caucus, introduced the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act, bipartisan legislation to support ski areas across the country that are operating on National Forest System lands and bring money back to local forests. The bill is also cosponsored by Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and John Barrasso (R-WY).
Currently, fees related to the permitting of ski areas on U.S. Forest Service land are given to the Treasury Department, where the funds are not dedicated for any specific purpose. The Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act seeks to change this system, and instead direct a portion of the fees to the National Forest System, where they will be used for local infrastructure improvements, avalanche forecasting and safety, and improved visitor services. The legislation also directs money to improve the ski area permitting process, helping ski areas facilitate investment in rural mountain communities.
“Utah is proud to have the greatest snow on Earth, bringing many opportunities for skiing and snowboarding and attracting tourists from around the globe,” said Congressman Curtis. “I believe it is one of our responsibilities to ensure we leave the land we recreate in better than we found it – including our beautiful National Forests. As the co-chair of the Congressional Ski and Snowboard Caucus, I am proud to partner with my fellow co-chair Rep. Kuster on this important legislation that will not only support recreation but will ensure the forests are healthy and maintained for future generations. The SHRED Act would allow the Forest Service to retain ski area permit fees at the forest that they originate in to be used for increased maintenance and improvements on those lands. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to quickly advance this important bill through Congress.”
“Outdoor recreation and skiing are cornerstones of New Hampshire’s economy and the Granite State way of life,” said Congresswoman Kuster.“As co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Ski and Snowboard Caucus, my Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Actwill steer more New Hampshire dollars back home by investing fees paid by our Granite State ski mountains into our local forests and communities to help create more year-round jobs and bolster our regional economies for generations to come.”
Statements of Support
“The SHRED Act is important in one regard in that it represents a commitment to our ski areas and the National Forests on which they operate,” said Jessyca Keeler, President, Ski New Hampshire.“But more importantly, it’s an investment in the communities where the funds from this act will be allocated. By setting aside dollars to make permitting and program administration more efficient, more projects can get off the ground in a timely manner, leading to increased economic activity in the often rural and remote areas that stand to benefit from this legislation.”
“As more and more people head outdoors to recreate in these challenging times, this investment in Forest Service capacity and outdoor recreation could not come at a better time,” said Kelly Pawlak, President/CEO, National Ski Areas Association. “Ski areas applaud Reps. Kuster, Curtis, Neguse and LaMalfa for their leadership and bipartisan efforts in support of the SHRED Act. Mountain communities, ski areas, outfitter guides and the millions of people who recreate on the National Forests will all benefit from this critical legislation.”
“What the SHRED Act does for ski areas is a solid model for all facilitated recreation experiences,” said Aaron Bannon, Executive Director, America Outdoors Association. “Outdoor recreation permit fees should be reallocated at the site, should be used to improve and enhance facilitated recreation experiences, and should be made available to help other sites address recreation programming needs that may not have the resources necessary at the local level.”
“Snowsports Industries America (SIA) fully supports the retention of ski area fees through the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act,” said Nick Sargent, President, Snowsports Industries America. “This important legislation will provide valuable resources to improve the Forest Service’s capacity to administer permits and make critical and timely decisions on improving public lands infrastructure and facilitating implementation of year-round recreation activities.”
Specifically, the SHRED Act would:
- Keep Ski Fees Local: By establishing a Ski Area Fee Retention Account to retain a portion of the fees that ski areas pay to the Forest Service. For National Forests that receive less than $15 million in ski fees annually, 75% of the fees are retained. For forests that receive more than $15 million in ski fees annually, 60% of the ski fees would be retained. The retained funds are available for authorized uses at the local National Forest.
- Support Winter Recreation: In each National Forest, 75% of the retained funds are directly available to support Forest Service Ski Area Program and permitting needs, process proposals for improvement projects, train staff, and prepare for wildfire. Any excess funds can be directed to other National Forests that host ski areas for the same uses. After all of the winter recreation uses have been addressed across the country, excess funds are carried over to the pot of funding that supports broad recreation needs.
- Address Broad Recreation Needs: In each National Forest, 25% of the retained funds are available to support a broad set of local recreation management and community needs, including special use permit administration, visitor services, trailhead improvements, facility maintenance, and affordable workforce housing. This set-aside would dramatically increase some Forest Service unit’s budgets to meet the growing visitation and demand for outdoor recreation.