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Utah Congressman’s Bill Would Direct Ski Permit Fees to Forest Lands

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Michelle Deininger
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Utah Congressman John Curtis is co-sponsoring legislation that would direct a portion of ski area permit fees to improving land management and visitor services in local national forests where ski resorts operate. 

Curtis, a Republican representing Utah’s third district, and Annie Kuster, a New Hampshire Democrat, are co-chairs of the House Ski and Snowboard Caucus. Together they introduced the Ski Hill Resource for Economic Development, known as SHRED, this week.

Under the Act, the Forest Service would retain ski area permit fees at the forest they originated in, to be used for increased maintenance and improvements on those lands.

Curtis spoke to KPCW by phone about the SHRED Act.

"In my opinion, the best form of taxation is that which directly goes to and pays for the services used," Curtis said. "And so I felt it was very important to return a portion of those fees back to the ski resorts, both to help them economically, and obviously a side benefit is helping them deal with the impact of climate change. But also because that's the right thing to do. Those skiers pay those fees, and I think they have a right to expect that they would go to help the infrastructure and their skiing experience. And so that's what this bill does."

He also underscored the importance of bipartisan sponsorship in maximizing the bill’s chances for passage.

"You know, to get a bill through the legislative process here is a long, complicated process," he said. "Even very, very good bills don't pass. And so we've been working hard to lay the groundwork for a bill that we could get passed. And of course, that starts with the co-sponsors, then getting consideration and committee hearings and things like that. And I think given our co-sponsors, there's a very high likelihood that this bill will be well-received in committee and we'll be able to get it on the floor for a vote."

Currently, fees related to the permitting of ski areas on U.S. Forest Service land are given to the Treasury Department, and are not dedicated to any specific purpose.

The SHRED Act would require a portion of those to fund local infrastructure improvements, avalanche forecasting and safety, and improved visitor services. SHRED would also direct money to improve the ski area permitting process, which sponsors say could facilitate investment in rural mountain communities.

Curtis said under SHRED, forest services could use a portion of the fees for critical land management and fire prevention needs.

The SHRED Act is also co-sponsored by Congressman Joe Neguse (nuh-GOOSE)  of Colorado and Congressman Doug LaMalfa of California. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Michael Bennet of Colorado and John Barrasso of Wyoming.

The SHRED Act sponsors are now working to get the bill through committee hearings and onto the House floor for a full vote.